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BORN CIRCA 1537. DIED 1623 










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Presented to udd/OCOUJ cLdbntcuVu , I &L\A\b ua/ ah . 

Contents of Volume first 




PREFACE, ........ v 


SALTOUN, . . . . . . . xiii 

FIELD, second Son; and HON. JAMES FRASER OF 

LONMAY, third Son of William, Eleventh Lord Saltoun, xvi 


INTRODUCTION, ....... i 








Sir Alexander Fraser, Eighth of Philorth, founder of 

Fraserburgh, ...... Frontispiece. 

Alexander Fraser, Ninth of Philorth, . . between 166 a7id 167 

Alexander Fraser, Tenth of Philorth, and Tenth Lord 

Saltoun, . . . . . . .168 and 169 

Charles Ker, Second Earl of Ancrum, . . .180 and 181 

Alexander Fraser, Master of Saltoun, . . . 186 and 187 

Alexander Fraser, elder Son of the Master of Saltoun, 188 and 189 

William Fraser, Eleventh of Philorth, and Eleventh 

Lord Saltoun, ...... to face page 193 

James Sharpe, Archbishop of St. Andrews, . between 194 and 195 

Alexander Fraser, Twelfth of Philorth, and Twelfth 

Lord Saltoun, ...... 198 and 199 

Alexander Fraser, Thirteenth of Philorth and Thir- 
teenth Lord Saltoun, . . . • • 202 and 203 

George Fraser, Fourteenth of Philorth and Fourteenth 

Lord Saltoun, ...... 204 and 205 

Alexander Fraser, Fifteenth of Philorth and Fifteenth 

Lord Saltoun, . . . . . .206 and 207 

Marjory Fraser, Lady Saltoun, his Wife, . . .206 and 207 

Simon Fraser, Esq. of Ness Castle, . . . 210 and 211 

Lieut.-Gen. Alexander George Fraser, K.T., G.C.B., G.C.H., 

Sixteenth of Philorth and Sixteenth Lord Saltoun, 226 and 22-] 



Illustrations in Volume First — Portraits — continued. 

The Hon. Simon Fraser, second Son of Alexander, Fif- page 

teenth Lord Saltoun, .... between 234 and 235 

The Hon. William Fraser, third Son of Alexander, 

Fifteenth Lord Saltoun, .... 312 and 313 


Charter by Earl Waldeve to the Monks of Melrose, of pasture on 
Lammermuir, ante 1182, ..... 

Cairnbulg Castle, or Old Manor-House of Philorth, 

Keep of Fraserburgh Castle, Wine Tower, etc. (1850), 

Letters Patent by King Charles the Second in favour of Alexander 
Fraser of Philorth, of the title and dignity of Lord Abernethy 
of Saltoun, 1670, ...... 

Armorial Bearings, ...... 

Town Hall and Market Cross, Fraserburgh, 

1 2 and 1 3 
1 14 and 115 
154 and 155 

184 and 185 
192 and 193 
304 and 305 

III.— ARMORIAL SEALS. Woodcuts of- 

Richard Fraser, ante 1276, 

Sir Richard Fraser, 1297, 

Sir Andrew Fraser, 1297, 

Sir Alexander Fraser, the Chamberlain, 1320, 

Margaret Fraser, 1392, . 

Euphemia, Countess of Ross, 1381, 

Hugh de Ross, Lord of Philorth, 1365, . 

Alexander Fraser, Master of Saltoun, 1676, 











Illustrations in Volume First — continued. 

IV.— SIGNATURES. Woodcuts of- 

James, Earl of Morton, Regent, 1575, 
King James the Sixth, 1588, 1596, and 1602, 
James, First Duke of Hamilton, 1648, 
John, Second Earl of Lauderdale, 1648, . 
James, First Earl of Calander, 1648, 
John, First Earl of Traquair, 1648, 
William, Earl of Lanrick, 1648, . 
John, Earl of Crawford and Lindsay, 1648, 
King Charles the Second, 1651, . 
Alexander Fraser, Master of Saltoun, 1676, 



158, 160, 161 


CjOME years ago I was induced to investigate the history of 
the family to which I belong, and at first I sought informa- 
tion from the various accounts of the Frasers, both manuscript 
and printed, that have appeared from time to time ; but I found 
them so contradictory of one another, and in many respects so 
far at variance with indubitable facts, that I came to the con- 
clusion that dependence upon any of them would only lead me 
into error, and that I must search for myself among old records 
in order to arrive at any approximation to the truth. 

In pursuing these investigations, I determined to rely on the 
four kinds of evidence, which are placed below in the order of 
their respective degrees of value : — 

First. Charter evidence, or the mention of individuals in various 
degrees of relationship to other persons in charters, royal 
mandates, or other important legal or official documents. 
Although these are not always conclusive as to the 
possession of the lands they assume to grant, or the per- 
formance of the acts they order to be done, they are, with 
scarcely an exception, trustworthy as regards the relation- 
ship of individuals when it is noticed in them. 
Second. Evidence from succession to property by persons of 
the same surname, combined with due attention to dates, 


to the positions in which those persons are found, and to 
evidence of relationship with other persons, of whose exist- 
ence and position there is certain record. 
Third. Evidence from the mention of persons by trustworthy 
contemporary, or nearly contemporary historians, and other 
authors ; consideration being given to the circumstances 
in which their names appear. 
Fourth. Evidence from tradition, or writings of genealogists, 
when nothing adverse to the statements is gathered from 
other and more trustworthy sources. 
When the above-mentioned four kinds of evidence have failed 
me, I mention that it is so, sometimes offering a suggestion. 

Although naturally my researches have been directed more 
especially to that line of the family which I represent, yet they 
have led me to investigate the origin of the principal other 
branches, and if I had found evidence that any of them was senior 
to my own line, I would at once have acknowledged it, for there 
can be no dishonour in the accident of birth ; but since, on the 
contrary, I have found full proof that the line I represent is 
the senior line of all now surviving, and is descended from Sir 
Alexander Fraser, Chamberlain of Scotland, who was head of the 
family in the time of King Robert Bruce, I have no hesitation 
in asserting my own position as the head of the family at the 
present day. 

Some remarks upon the subject of the Highland Clan Fraser 
will explain their position ; for their great influence in the 
Highlands of Scotland during comparatively modern times, and 
their possessions in those districts, have created the belief that all 


of the name must necessarily be members of that Clan, and some 
have supposed that the family had a Highland or Celtic origin, a 
supposition in some degree countenanced by one or two writers on 
the subject ; especially by one who styles the town of Fraserburgh 
" strange offspring of a Highland Clan." 

But the fact is, that the origin, or formation, of the Highland 
Clan Fraser cannot be dated further back than the fifteenth century, 
for although the surname appears in the Lowlands of Scotland as 
early as the middle of the twelfth century, none of its members 
acquired any permanent settlement in the Highlands until the 
fourteenth century, at which time a branch, which also held lands 
in Forfarshire, obtained large possessions in the districts around 
Inverness, and eventually becoming very numerous, originated or 
formed the Highland Clan of the name. 

But the senior line, which continued to have their principal 
seat in the Lowlands, and those of the surname who remained 
in that section of Scotland, where Teutonic institutions prevailed, 
and whence the patriarchal system of Clans and Clanships had 
long been banished, had nothing to do with the origin or formation 
of the Highland Clan, and never belonged to it. 

I have noticed, p. 130 vol. i. and p. 170 vol. ii., the extreme 
probability, indeed almost certainty, that the representatives of 
the respective lines of Philorth and Lovat were nearest of kin 
to each other in 1464, with the exception of the six sons of the 
Philorth of that date ; and such has been the extinction of male 
descendants in the various branches of the line of Philorth, that 
at the present time, with the exception of my own two sons, 
my two brothers, and their four sons, numbering eight persons 



in all, Lord Lovat is my nearest legitimate male connection of the 
Fraser name. 

My self-imposed task would have been far shorter and less 
difficult if I had not found myself obliged to notice, and, as far as 
possible, to correct the errors into which former writers upon the 
Fraser genealogy have fallen ; and although I cannot hope myself 
to have avoided mistakes, and facts with which I am unacquainted 
may hereafter be brought to light, I have spared no pains to 
establish the correctness of every statement in this history, which 
I must now leave to the judgment of the reader. 

In the course of my researches I became aware of an accidental 
oversight upon the part of Mr. Hill Burton, in his well-known 
History of Scotland. 

In his list of the Barons of Scotland, who in 1320 sent the 
famous letter to Pope John xxil, he has omitted the name of Sir 
Alexander Fraser. 

I thought it right to bring this omission to his notice, and 
upon doing so received the subjoined courteous reply, in which, 
while acknowledging the mistake, he promises that it shall be 
rectified at the earliest opportunity. 

" Craighouse, Lothianburn, 
"Edinburgh, 21 st October 1871. 

" My Lord, — I have the honour of your Lordship's of the 1 1th, which only 
reached me yesterday. I showed it immediately to my father-in-law, Cosmo 
Innes, who said he had no doubt it was a correction of a mistake. I then 
looked at the original in the Eegister House, and there I found the name 
Alexander Fraser. I also saw how, in a careless transcription, it might 
be passed over. It comes between Menteith and Hay the constable, both 


with long titles : ' Johannes de Meneteth custos comitatus de Meneteth,' then 
comes, crushed in, ' Alex r Fras r .' 

" In revising my book I shall not only see to the correction, but examine 
the several copies of the list, so that any who are interested may be warned 
against errors. 

" Permit me to express my thanks to your Lordship for favouring me with 
this correction. I have occasionally received letters asking me to notice 
matters of family history which do not come within my scope. But certainly 
no house in Scotland that has the distinction of belonging to that group of 
patriots should wittingly let it be dropped out of remembrance. 

" I have the honour to be, your Lordship's very obedient servant, 

-r , r, ,, » "J. H. Burton. 

" Lord baltoun. 

At pages 89, 90, 91, of vol. i., I have referred to the error of 
certain heralds of the seventeenth century, in blazoning the arms 
of " Lord Fraser of old," and of Fraser Lord Lovat, as Jive "frays" 
placed saltireivays. It was not until after those remarks were 
printed that I met with a copy of Sir David Lindsay's work on 
Heraldry, of date 1542, which showed me that those heralds could 
claim his high authority for their statements. 

But it also showed me that, whether originated by himself or 
before his time, Sir David Lindsay participated in the error ; and 
it confirmed my view of the cause of the error having been the 
quarterings in the Yester arms ; for the field of those quarterings 
on the shield of Hay Lord Yester, at page 56 of Sir David Lind- 
say's work, and that of the shield of " Fraseir Lord Frasere," at 
page 59 (the " Lord Fraser of old " of the heralds), are both sable ; 
and as the field of the arms of Sir Simon Fraser, filius, whose 
daughter and co-heiress brought those quarterings into the Yester 
shield, was also sable (pp. 84, 95, vol. ii.), this affords additional 


evidence that the mistake originated through ignorance of the 
true ancient bearings of the Fraser family, as borne by that Sir 
Simon and his contemporaries of the name, viz., six rosettes or 
cinquefoils placed 3.2. 1 , and of their reduction from six to three 
placed 2.1, on the failure of the eldest male line dming the 
fourteenth century (pp. 85, 86, vol. i.), and in the erroneous belief 
that the quarterings in the Yester shield represented those ancient 
bearings, as borne by the father of the heiress who brought them 
into the family of Hay. 

It was my intention to have restricted this work within the 
limits of two volumes, but having in my possession a considerable 
number of letters, written by the late Lieut. -General Lord Saltoun 
during his military services in various parts of the world, it was 
suggested that selections from these might prove of interest, and 
hence a third volume has been added. 

These letters range from the first entrance of Lord Saltoun 
upon active military service to within a few days of his decease ; 
and they evince throughout the manly straightforwardness, the 
strong good-sense, the firm self-reliance, the obedience to the 
dictates of duty, the cheerful and contented tender, the sympathy 
with his fellow-man, and the warm affection to those more nearly 
connected with him that formed his character, while the last 
letter, written by a friend who was present at the closing scene 
of his life, shows how cahnly and fearlessly this brave and good 
man rendered his spirit to God who gave it. 

For the letters written to Lieut. -Colonel and Mrs. Charles 
Ellis, I am indebted to the kindness of the late Lady Parker, 
widow of Vice- Admiral Sir Charles C. Parker, Bart., and sister- 


in-law of Mrs. Charles Ellis; and to Mr. Francis Bayley, through 
whom I received them, I am also indebted for many valuable hints 
during my researches. 

It may be of interest to point out the striking similarity 
between the early career of the late Lieut. -General Lord Saltoun 
and that of his distinguished ancestor, Sir Alexander Fraser the 
Chamberlain, though separated by an interval of five hundred years. 

Either was born towards the close of a century; Sir Alexander 
about 1285, Lord Saltoun in 1785. Either lost his father at an 
early age. Either commenced an active military career at a similar 
time; Sir Alexander in 1306 when he joined Bruce, Lord Saltoun 
in 1806 in the expedition to Sicily. Either passed the next eight 
or nine years of his life in almost constant warfare. Either took 
part in the decisive victory that insured success to the cause for 
which he fought; Sir Alexander at Bannockburn in June 1314, 
Lord Saltoun at "Waterloo in June 1815. Either married at a 
similar period; Sir Alexander about 1315-16, Lord Saltoun in 
1815. Either, after a few years, was left a widower. 

But there the parallel ends, for the former, while leaving issue, 
fell in battle at a comparatively early age ; and the latter, while he 
had no child, nearly attained to the allotted threescore and ten 
years of man's existence. 

Although I cannot flatter myself that the subject of which I 
have treated will be of much interest to the general public, I 
hope there are some to whom these volumes will afford pleasure, 
and serve as a record of the family to which they belong, or with 
which they are connected by ties of kindred or friendship. 

I have to offer my best thanks to those friends who have 


afforded me assistance during my labours, among whom are Sir 
Alexander Anderson, Mr. W. F. Skene, Mr. Thomas Dickson, 
and Mr. Hugh Fraser. From the Authorities at the Record 
Office and the British Museum in London, and the General 
Register House and Advocates' Library in Edinburgh, I have 
also experienced much kindness, and I must mention with 
gratitude the help and encouragement I received from the late 
Mr. Cosmo Innes, and the late Mr. Grant Leslie ; and last r 
not least, my thanks are due to Mr. William Fraser, himself 
the author of many valuable Family Histories, who has given me 
not only the benefit of his great experience and vast research, 
but has also led my unaccustomed footsteps through the thorny 
paths of the press. 


Philoeth, June 1879. 



Names of first generation on record, — 

SIMON FRASERof Keith, inEast Lothian, Gilbert Frasee, in East Lothian, 
1160-90, left an only daughter and 1166-82. 

heiress, Eda, married Hugh Lorens. 

Beenaed Feasee, in East Lothian, 


Names of second generation on record, — 

Udaed Feaser, Thomas Frasee, 120S. 

in East Lothian, circa 1200. No posterity known. 

Sir Bernard Feasee(?) of Forton and 
Linton, probably first of Touch- 
fraser, etc., Vicecomes de Stirling, 
1234. Died s.p. circa 1249. 

Sir Gilbert Feaser (?), Vicecomes 
de Traquair and Peebles, 1233-42. 
Probably acquired Oliver Castle. 
Died circa 1263. 

John Fraser. 
Married Alicia 
de Cunigburg, 

circa 1240. 
Died probably 
c.p. ante 1263. 


I I 

Sir Simon Fraser Sie Andeew William Fraser, Bishop Sie Laweence Feaser of 


Adam Feaser, 

1230-40. Probably 

acquired Drumelzier 

and Hales. 


of Oliver Castle, Vice- 
comes de Traquair 
and Peebles, 1264. 
Died ante 1283. 

Frasee, died 

ante 1308. 

No posterity 


of St. Andrews, 1279. 
Guardian of Scotland, 
1286-92. Died 1297. 

Drumelzier and Hales, 
1260-80. No posterity 
known. Perhaps a son, 
Lawrence, 1296, who 
died s.p. 




Frasee (?). 

1268. Died 

ante 1296. 

Sir Richard Fraser 
of Touch-fraser, etc. , 
Vicecomes de Ber- 
wick, 1293. Died 
ante 1321. 

Sir Alexander Fraser(?), 
1296-1306, probably an- 
cestor of Frasers of 
Cornetoun and Muchalls, 
Lords Fraser. Extinct 

Sir Simon Frasee 
(pater) of Oliver 
Castle, Justiciar 
under Alexander 
in. Died 1291. 

Sir William Fraser of 
Drumelzier, 1296-1326, 
left an heiress, married 
to Roger, son of Finlay 
of Twydyn, ancestor of 
Tweedie of Drumelzier. 

Bernard Fraser, 


No posterity 


Perhaps ancestor of 

Frasers of Fruid. 


Sie Andrew Fraser, ? Vice- 
comes de Stirling, 1293. Died 
v.p. probably in Flanders, 


Sir Simon Feaser (films) of Oliver Castle. 
Executed by order of Edward 1. 1306. Left 
two coheiresses, married to Hay of Locher- 
wart and Fleming of Wigton. 


Thomas Feaser, 


No posterity 


Sir Alexander Frasee of Touch-fraser, 
etc., and first of Cowie. Chamberlain 
of Scotland, 1319-26. Married Lady 
Mary de Bruce. Killed at Dupplin 
1332. I 

Sie Simon Frasee. Killed 
at Halidon 1333. Ances- 
tor of the Lords Lovat (?). 

Sie Andrew 
Fraser. Killed 

at Halidon 
1333. No pos- 
terity known. 

John Fraser of Touch-fraser, etc., 
died ante 1361. Left an only 
daughter and heiress, Margaret 
Fraser, married Sir William de 
Keith, the Marischal. 

Sir Alexander Frasee of Cowie and 

Durris, first of Philorth. Married — 

1st, Lady Johanna de Ross ; 2d, Lady 

Elizabeth de Hamilton. Died circa 1410. 


Sir William Frasee of Cowie 
and Durris. Married Mar- 
garet, daughter of Sir An- 
drew Moray of Bothwell. 
Killed at Durham 1346. 

Sie John Feasee 

of Forglen and 

Ardendracht. Died 

ante 1402. 


Sir James Fraser. Mar- 
ried Margaret Stewart, 
heiress of Frendraught. 
Killed at Halidon 1333. 

Sir James Feasee of 


Died circa 1395. 

James Feaser of Frendraught, 
1402-4. Died ante 1426. Left 
heiress Mauld Fraser, married 
Alexander Dunbar. 

(?) denotes strong probability of parentage ascribed, but no positive proof of the fact from documentary evidence. 



First wife,— 

Sir William Fraser of Cowie and Durris, second 
of Philortli. Married Elinor de Douglas. Sold 
Cowie and Durris. Died circa 1441-5. 


John Fraser of Forglen and 
Ardendracht, died ante 1440. 
No male issue. 

Sir Alexander Fraser, third of Philortli. 
Married Marjorie Menzies. Made reciprocal 
entail with first Lord Lovat, 1464. Died 1482. 


Agnes Fraser, married William 
Forbes of Kinaldie. 

Isabel Fraser, married 

Gilbert Menzies, 

younger of Findon. 

Alexander Fraser, fourth of Philorth. 

Married Lady Margaret de Hav. 

Died 1486. 

James Fraser 

of Memsie. 

Extinct ante 1635. 

I I I I 
William Eraser. 
John Fraser. 
Andrew Fraser. 
George Fraser. 
No posterity known. 

Alexander Fraser, 

fifth of Philorth. 

Died s.p. 1500. 

Sir William Fraser, sixth of Philorth. 
Married Elizabeth de Keith. Died 1513. 
Probably killed at Flodden. 



George Fraser, 


No posterity known. 

Janet Fraser, 

married George Baird 

of Ordinschivas. 

Alexander Fraser, seventh of Philorth. 
Married Katheriue Menzies. Died 1569. 



Christina Fraser, married Andrew 
Chalmers of Strichen. 


Alexander Fraser. 

Married Lady 

Beatrix de Keith. 

Died v.i). 1564. 

William Fraser 
of Techmuiry, an- 
cestor of second line 
of Memsie. Extinct 
respectively ante 
1700 and 1820. 

Thomas Fraser 
of Strichen. 

Married Isabel 
Forbes. Died 

1576, leaving 
two daughters. 

John Fraser, 

became Kector 

of University 

of Paris. 

Died 1609. 

Margaret Fraser. 

M arried 

Alexander Cumming 

of Inverallochy. 


married Wil- 
liam Crawford 
of Fedderat. 

Sir Alexander Fraser, eighth 
of Philorth. Founder of Fraser- 
burgh. Married — 1st, Magdalen 
Ogilvie; 2d, Elizabeth Maxwell, 
Lady Lochinvar. Died 1623. 


John Fraser 
of Quarrelbuss, had 

a son, Andrew, 
but no posterity of 
the latter known. 

Walter Fraser 

of Rathilloch, 

had a son, Andrew, 

but no posterity 
of the latter known. 


Andrew Fraser, 


No posterity 


First wife, — 

Alexander Fraser, ninth William James Fraser Simon Fraser. Magdalen, Margaret 

of Philorth. Married — 1st, Fraser. of Tyrie. Thomas Fraser. married Fraser, 

Margaret Abernethy ; 2d, Died Extinct ante No posterity of Patrick married 

Isabella Gordon. Died v.p. s.j). 1750. either known. Cheyne of Hay 

1636-7. - Essehuont. of Ury. 

First wife, 


Fraser, married 

Sir R. de Keith 

of Athergill. 

Alexander Fraser, tenth of Philorth, tenth 

Lord Saltoun. Married — 1st, Forbes ; 

2d, Elizabeth Seton. Died 1693. 


First wife, — 

Magdalen Fraser, 

married James Forbes 

of Blacktoune. 

Second wife, — 

John Fraser. Mary Fraser, 

Died s.p. married Baird 

ante 1630. of Auchmeddan. 

Second wife, — 

Alexander Fraser, Master of Saltoun. Married — 1st, Lady Anne Ker ; 
2d, Lady Marion Cunningham, Countess Findlater ; 3d, Lady Sophia 
Erskine. Died v.p. 16S2. I 

First wife, - 

Janet Fraser, 

married Alexander Fraser 

of Techmuiry, 



First wife, — 

Alexander Fraser. 
Died v.p. s.p. 1672. 

First wife, — 

William Fraser, eleventh of Plrilorth, eleventh Lord Saltoun. Married 
Margaret Sharpe. Died 1715. 

Alexander Fraser, twelfth 
of Philorth, twelfth Lord 
Saltoun. Married Lady 
Mary Gordon. Died 1748. 

Hon. William 


Vide separate 


Hon. Helen Fraser, 
married James 
Gordon of Park. 
Hon. Henrietta 
Fraser, married 
John Gordon of 

Hon. James 

Vide separate 


I I 

Hon. Mary Fraser, 

married William 

Dalmahoy of 


Hon. Isabella 

Fraser, married 

Mr. David Browne, 

minister, Belhelvie. 

Alexander Fraser, thirteenth 
of Philorth, thirteenth Lord 
Saltoun. Died unmarried, 


Hon. William Fraser. 

Died unmarried, 


George Fraser, fourteenth of Hon. Ann Fraser. 
Philorth, fourteenth Lord Sal- Hon. Sophia Fraser. 
toun. Married Eleanor Gor- Died unmarried, 
don. Died 1781. 1807, 1784. 

Alexander Fraser, fifteenth 
of Philorth, fifteenth Lord 
Saltoun. Married Marjory 
Fraser. Died 1793. 

I I I 

Hon. George Fraser. 

Hon. John Fraser. 

Hon. George Fraser. 
Died unmarried, 
1759, 1772, 1799. 

I I 

Hon. Henrietta Fraser. 
Hon. Mart Fraser. 
Died unmarried, 
1826, 1809. 

Hon. Eleanor Fraser, mar- 
ried — 1st, Sir G. Ramsay, 
Bart. ; 2d, Lt.-Gen. Camp- 
bell of Loehnell. Died 5.^. 

Alexander George Fraser, 
sixteenth of Philorth, six- 
teenth Lord Saltoun . Mar- 
ried Catharine Thurlow. 
Died s.2). 1853. 

Hon. Simon 


Died unmarried, 


Hon. William Fraser. 

Married Elizabeth G. 

Macdowall Grant. 

Died 1S45. 


Hon. Margaret 

Fraser. Died 

unmarried, 1845. 

Hon. Eleanor Fuasei;. 
married William Mac- 
dowall Grant of Arn- 
dilly. Died 1852, leav- 
ing two daughters. 

Alexander Fraser, 
seventeenth of Phil- 
orth, seventeenth 
Lord Saltoun. Mar- 
ried Charlotte Evans. 

Hon. David 
M. Fraser. 

Mary Gonne 
Bell. Issue. 

Simon Fraser. 
Hon. William 
M. Fraser. 
Died un- 
1S45, 1872. 

Hon. James 
H. Fraser. 
Married — 
1st, Marion 
Dundas ; 2d, 


Charles J. 

Fraser. Died 

an infant. 

I' I 
Hon. Mary E. 
Died unmar- 
1858, 1853. 


Hon. Elizabeth Hon. Eleanor 
Fraser, married A. Fraser, 
Colonel Hamilton married Henry W. 


Hon. Margaret 

E. G. Fraser, 

married Captain 

A. Evans. 

Both Issue. 

Forester, Esq. 
Hon. Katherine 

T. Fraser, 
married J. Stew- 
art Menzies of 
Both Issue. 



second son, and HON. JAMES FRASER OF LONMAY, third son 
of William, Eleventh Lord Saltoun. 

. I 

Hon. WILLIAM FRASER of Fraserfield. Married 
Lady Katherine Erskine. Died 1727. 



Wjlliam Fuasek of Fraserfield. Married 

Rachel Kennedy. Died 1788. 

Hon. James Fraser of Lonmay. 
Lady Eleanor Lindesay. 


William Fraser. Died unmarried. 




Hugh Fraser. 

1 1 
Alexander Henry D. 


1 1 
Hugh Fraser, Erskine 


A. Fhaser, 

Anna A. Fraser. 

Fraser Fraser. 


Rector of 


of Fraserfield. 


Rachel Fraser. 

of Fraserfield. Married Mary 

Died unmar- 


of Woodhill. 

Died s.p. 1789. 


Died in infancy. 

Married Mary C. Forbes. 

ried 1819. 


Married Eliza- 



C. Moir. Died 1810. 

Miss Lloyd 

beth Forbes. 


Mitchell of 

Died 1807. 

Died 1837. 

Died 1804. 

married Earl 



of Buchan, 

Died 1S36. 

died s.p. 1819. 



1 1 

Mary Fraser, 

1 1 1 1 
William J. Frase 

1 1 1 
R. Erskine W. Fraser. Rachel 

William Fraser 



married Wil- 

John H. D. Fraser. 

Died young. 


of Woodhill. 

of Fraserfield, 

married Win 

liam Urquhart 

Died unmarried. M 

\ry W. Fraser. Died 

Married Mary 

married Henrv 

Maxwell, Esc 

of Craigston. 

Sophia M. J. Fraser, 

Died young. 



D. Forbes, 

Died 1S67. 

Died 1S7-3. 

married Comte H. F. 



sixth son of 



Bombelles. Issue. 

Died 1872, 



Margaret A. Fraser, 

leaving an only 

Forbes Mitchell 

I. Fraser. 

married Marquis de 


of Thainston. 

Died un- 


Elizabeth Fraser. 

Died 1839. 


Mary Anne Fraser. 




d unmarried 187 




HUGH DE ABERNETHY, Lay Abbot. Died ante 1164. 

Oem de Abernethy, Lay Abbot. Died ante 1190. 


Laurence de Abernethy, last Lay Abbot. 
Died circa 1245. 


A daughter, said to have married 
Henry Rule of Balmerino. 

Patrick de Abernethy. Died ante, 1257. 

Sir Hugh de Abernethy. 
Die.l ante 1292. 

Sir William Abernethy, 
first of Saltoun. Died ante 
1296. | 



de Abernethy, 

married Hugh 

de Douglas. 


Henry de 

Abernethy (?) 


I I .1 

Sir Patrick de Abernethy (?) Sir Alexander de Abernethy. Sir William Abernethy, second of Saltoun. 
1288. Died s.p. Died eirca 1315. Died ante 1330. 

I I 

! I I 

Margaret Helen or Mary Mary de 

de Abernethy, de Abernethy, Abernethy, 

married John married Sir David married Sir 

Stewart, de Lindesay of Andrew de 

Earl of Angus. Crawford. Leslie. 

Sir William Abernethy, 
third of Saltoun. Died 
ante 1350. 

Sir Lawrence 




William Abernethy (?) Sir George Abernethy, Hugh Abernethy. Daughters, co-heiresses. 

Probably died v. p. s./j. fourth of Saltoun. Taken prisoner at Died v. p. s.p. 

Durham, 1346. Died ante 1371. 


Sir George Abernethy. 

fifth of Saltoun, 1371. 

Died ante 1400. 

Sir John Abernethy, 1363-1381. 

Went to the Holy Land. 

No posterity known. 

Sir William Abernethy, sixth of Saltoun. Married Lady Mary Stewart. Died 142o. 

William Abernethy. Married Margaret 
Borthwick. Killed at Harlaw v.p. 1411. 


Patrick Abernethy, 1413. 

No posterity known. 

John Abernethy, 1432. 
No posterity known. 

Sir William Abernethy, 
seventh of Saltoun. Died 
s.p. ante 1428. 

Sin Lawrence Abernethy, 
first Lord Saltoun. Died 
circa 1460. 

Oswald Abernethy, 1449. 
Died ante 1464. 

(?) denotes strong probability of parentage ascribed, but no positive proof of the fact from documentary evidence. 



I I 

William James 

Abeknethy, Abehnethy, 

second Lord third Lord 

Saltoun. Died Saltoun. Died 

s.p. 1488. ante 1512. 

I I 

Hon. George Hon. Archibald 
abernethy, abernethy. 
1482-93. No Died ante 1482. 
posterity Left issue, but 
known. nothing known 

of them. 



married Sir John 
Wemyss of 


Hon. Elizabeth 


married John 

Gordon, son 

of John Gordon 

of Scardargue. 


No posterity 


Alexander Abernethy, fourth 
Lord Saltoun. Married daughter 
of James Stewart, Earl of 
Buclian. Died ante 1530. 


Hon. Margaret Abernethy, 
married John Stirling of 

Hon. Janet Abernethy, 

married Alexander 

Ogilvie of Deskford. 

Hon. Elizabeth 

married Alexander 
Hay of Ardendracht. 

William Abernethy, fifth Lord Sal- 
toun. Married Hon. Elizabeth Hay. 
Died circa 1544. I 

Hon. Laurence Abernethy, 1544. 
No posterity known. 


Hon. Beatrix Abernethy, married 

Alexander Forbes of Pitsligo. 

Alexander Abernethy, sixth Lord Saltoun. 
Married Lady Alison Keith. Died 1587. 

Hon. William Abernethy, ancestor of family of 
Birnes. Extinct, so far as known. 


George Abernethy, 

seventh Lord Saltoun. 

Married Lady Margaret 

Stewart. Died 

ante 1595. 


Hon. Alexander 

Hon. John 

Abernethy of 


Lessendrum, 1587. 

of Barrie. 

No posterity 



ante 1609. 


Hon. Elizabeth 


married — 1st, John, 

eighth Lord Glands ; 

2d, John Innes of Innes. 

A daughter, 

Seton of 



John Abernethy, 

eighth Lord Saltoun. 

Married — 1st, Lady Mary 

Stewart ; 2d, Hon. Anne 

Stewart. Died 1617. 

Hon. Margaret Abernethy. 
Married Alexander Fraser, ninth 
of Philorth. Their son succeeded 
as tenth Lord Saltoun. — Vide 
Pedigree of Frasers of Philorth 
for tenth Lord Saltoun. 

Hon. Jean Abernethy, 
married— 1st, Sir John de 

Lindsay of Kinfauns ; 
2d, Gordon of Gight. 

Second wife, — 

Alexander Hon. Anna Abernethy. 
Abernethy, Died in infancy, 

ninth Lord Hon. Margaret Abeknethy. 
Saltoun. Died Died unmarried circa 1669. 
unmarried, 1668. 

Thomas Abernethy 
of Barrie. 

Gkorge Abernethy of Barrie. James Alexander Aber- 

His posterity held Barrie Abernethy. NETHY'of Auchencloich. 

till 1722, when it was sold to Died unmarried Married Isobel 

Duff of Crombie, and no circa 1664. Hackett of Mayen. 

more is known of them. Died 1683. 




of Mayen. 


No posterity 





married James 

Moil- of 

married Sir 
Alexander Hay 
of Arnbath. 




Nothing known 

of her. 




married Rev. 

Hugh Innes, 

minister of 





Rev. Alexander 

Shand, minister 

of Inch. 

James Abernethy of Mayen. 


Married Jane Duff. 


Joan Abernethy, married Dr. William Moir of Spittell. 

James Abernethy of 
Mayen. Died s.p. 1785. 


Jane Abernethy, 

married Alexander Duff, 

Major, 68th Regiment. 

Isobel Abernethy, 

married Graham, 

Lieutenant 42d Highlanders. 

Helen Abernethy. 
Nothing known of her. 



TTTHEN the origin of the principal families of their native country first 
attracted the attention of Scottish authors, great difficulty existed in 
discovering the charters and historical documents by which alone the descent 
of each could be properly authenticated ; and the most eminent genealogists 
were fain to take upon trust pedigrees already composed by bards and 
seanachies, in honour of the families to which they belonged or were attached, 
while no test of the truth of these statements was within the reach of those 
to whom they were presented. 

Many of these pedigrees contained long lists of names, and recounted 
events that owed their existence solely to the fertile brains of the original 
composers ; and a forced translation from the Gaelic, or a punning resem- 
blance to a French word, satisfied the heralds and genealogists of succeeding 
ages, and induced them to lend the weight of their authority to family origins 
and histories, which had but very slender, if any, foundation in fact. 

In this manner two accounts of the origin of the Fraser Family appear to 
have been produced ; one deriving the lineage from Pierre Fraser, said to 
have come from France to Scotland in the age of Charlemagne, and giving a 
long roll of his posterity, Thanes of the Isle of Man ; the other deducing 
it from Julius de Berri, a seigneur of the province of that name in France, 
who, on presenting a dish of strawberries to Charles the Simple, had his 
name changed from De Berri to De Fraise by that king. 



It is unnecessary to enlarge upon the absurdity of these fabrications, 
unsupported as they are by any evidence. The first seems to be the older 
production, and is doubtless the work of some bard or seanachie, who selected 
the Isle of Man — probably little known to his circle in his day — as a spot 
where he might place his Thanes without fear of contradiction ; and the 
second, an instance of the punning derivation of names, was probably invented 
when the increase of historical knowledge rendered the first untenable, and 
was supported by a further punning alteration of the rosettes, or cinquefoils 
— the family insignia — into " Frays," " Fraes," or " Fraises," meaning straw- 
berry leaves, or flowers. 

Both accounts may be discarded as fabulous, and the only particle of 
truth in either woidd appear to be the French or Norman origin assigned to 
the family. 

The two appellations, " French " and " Norman," have the same significa- 
tion. The " Normans," who composed the nucleus of the army of William 
the Conqueror, were called French by the Saxons and Anglo-Danes, whom 
they subdued ; and with the French who accompanied them, or who, with 
Henry II. or other leaders subsequently settled in Britain, were at a later 
period termed Normans. 

That the Frasers were not descended from any of the Celtic tribes of 
Scotland, nor from any of the Saxon or Danish immigrants, 1 but were of 
French or Norman extraction, is evident from their having been constantly 
designated by their surname at a period when patronymics only were used by 
Celts, Saxons, and Anglo-Danes or Scoto-Danes, and surnames were not uni- 
versal even among the Normans ; and it is worthy of observation that it was 
borne by them as a surname proper, and not as a territorial surname or 
personal appellation, the prefixes " de " or " le " being never used. 2 

The name appears in ancient records under the various forms of Fraser, 
Freser, Fresel, Frasel, Freshell, Frisel, Frysel, and Freysel, — sometimes with 
the letter " 1 " doubled, or a final " e " added. 

1 The term Saxon includes Angles, Jutes, 2 Only one exception to this rule appears 

etc., of the Saxon conquest during the sixth in the name " Hugh de Fraser " as a witness 

century, that of Dane all the various tribes to a charter in 1367, which must have been 

of the Northmen of Scandinavia. an error on the part of the writer. 


In the earliest Scottish documents the form "Eraser," as in use at the 
present time, is found, and from the year 1160, when the name first occurs 
(an original charter, still extant, granted between 1166 and 1182, authenticates 
that form having been then employed), the principal members of the family — 
in the charters they granted, the deeds they executed, upon those seals of 
which impressions have been preserved, and, at a later period, in their 
signatures — have almost invariably employed that form of the name; the 
exceptions being an early seal of Eichard Eraser, and that of Margaret Fraser, 
on which the form Freser appears, and this, if not an error of the engraver, 
evinces that it was the same name ; and the seal of Simon Fraser, Filius, on 
which Friser is found, which is certainly the engraver's mistake, as in the 
deed to which it is affixed his name is written Fraser, and in a later seal of 
Richard Fraser, also appended to the same deed, the name is spelt with an "a." 

It may be of interest to notice here the time at which the name under 
the form of " Fraser " is first found in English records ; and this appears to 
have been towards the end of the reign of Henry n., for the following is a 
translation from the Latin of certain historians referring to that period : — 1 

" The same year, 1188, Eichard Count of Poitou " (afterwards Eichard I.), 
" and Eaymond, Count of St. Giles " (better known as Count of Thoulouse), 
" and Aymery Count of Angouleme, and Geoffry de Eancune, and Geoffry de 
" Lezinant " (Lusignan, brother of the King of Jerusalem), " and almost all 
" the principal men of Poitou, made war, all the others against the aforesaid 
" Eichard, and he against them all, but he, the aforesaid Eichard, overcame 
" them. 

" And among those whom he captured in the country of the Count of St. 
" Giles, he took Peter Seillun, by whose advice the Count of St. Giles had 
" seized some merchants of the Count of Poitou's dominions " (whom he 
treated with great barbarity), " and had done much injury to him and his lands. 

" Count Eichard therefore placed this Peter in a strong place and very 
" strict captivity, and the Count of St. Giles, being unable in any way to 
" release him from it, searched throughout his own possessions for any 
" persons of the family of the King of England, or of that of Count Eichard, 
" his son ; and it happened, after a few days, that two knights of the house- 
1 Benedict of Peterboro', vol. ii. p. 35 ; Hoveden, vol. ii. p. 339. 


" hold and family of the King of England, whose names were Bobert Poer 
" ('Power?'), and Eadulph Eraser, passed through his country on their 
" return from the shrine of St. James " (of Compostella), " to which they had 
" made a pilgrimage, and journeyed by way of Thoulouse. 

" The officials of the Count arrested them, and brought them bound before 
" him, and he ordered them to be imprisoned. 

" After a considerable time the Count proposed terms to them, saying, 
" ' If the Count of Poitou will allow my servant, whom he holds in prison, to 
" go free and unharmed, I will permit you both to go free and unharmed;' 
" and upon this one of them, Eadulph Fraser, was allowed to go to Count 
" Kichard of Poitou to treat for their own release and that of the servant of 
" the Count of St. Giles. 

" But Count Eichard, hearing that they had been captured when returning 
" from a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James, replied that they should not 
" be released by him, neither by request nor by ransom, because he should 
" offend God and his blessed Apostle James if he gave a ransom for them, 
" as the reverence due to a pilgrimage alone sufficed for their release." 

The sequel is curious. " Therefore the King of Prance " (overlord of the 
Counts of Poitou and St, Giles) " commanded that they should be set free, not 
" on account of love, or respect for the King of England, or his son Eichard, 
" but from respect and love for the blessed Apostle James. The Count of St. 
" Giles therefore released them, not on account of the command of the King 
" of France, but on account of the large ransom that he received from them." 

In the first year of Eichard I. of England, 1189-90, Eadulph "Frasier" 
held lands in Oxfordshire, and in the same year payment of £25 was made to 
Eadulph Fraser by order of the King for sustaining the castle of Kaermerdin 
in Gloucestershire, of which he may have been the keeper. 1 

He seems to have left daughters only, for in the time of Henry in. 
there is' a notice of the heredes of Eadulph Fraser, who held a knight's fee 
in Anestan, in the counties of Nottingham and Derby. 2 

About the end of the thirteenth century, when the interference of 
Edward I. in the affairs of Scotland brought English officials into that country, 
the forms of Fresel, Frasel, Freshell, Frisel, Frysel, and Freysel, first occur in 
1 Pipe Rolls, pp. 105, 163. 2 Testa de Nevill, p. 17. 


Scotland. They are often applied indiscriminately to the same individual in 
the Ragman Eolls, Eotuli Scotiae, and other records of that period, and seem to 
have been used in consequence of the existence in England of a family bearing 
the name of Fresel, or Freysel, which was considered the same as that of Fraser. 

In 1253-5, Jacobus Fresel was Escheator for Henry ill. citra, or from 
an English point of view, south of Trent, 1 and in 1273 Bichard Freysel was 
" Ballivus " of the Earl of Gloucester. Walter Freysel was also a landholder 
in that part of England in 1274, and William Freysel de Saxham, Ballivus 
of ... . Blakeburn in the same year. John Freysel held property in 
Cambridgeshire in 1279, and Galfridus Fresel "tenet unum mansum in Burg 
Marlowe" in 1280. 2 Before 1341, another Jacobus Fresel held considerable 
possessions at Bledelaw (Bledlow), in the county of Buckingham. 3 Thomas 
Fresel was a landowner at Southton in 1345, and John Frisel was vicar of 
Houghton, in Norfolk, about 1332, 4 and a Margaret Fresel, the wife of Egidius 
Peche, on September 23d and November 16th, 1314, obtained safe-conducts 
to go to Scotland to negotiate for the ransom of William Peche. 5 

The other forms appear to be variations of Fresel, due to the defective 
orthography of that age, but were used exclusively by others to designate 
members of the Scottish family, who, as above noticed, always employed the 
forms Fraser or Freser when mentioning themselves. 

At a later period, however, misled by the occurrence of these forms in 
early documents, genealogists, who had not the opportunity of examining still 
earlier records, fell into the error of adopting one of them, " Frisel," as the 
oldest form of the name to be found in Scotland. 

The forms of Fraser, and perhaps Freser, in Scotland, and Fraser, Fresel, 
Freysel in England, are therefore the most ancient on record, and it has now 
to be seen whether these can be considered as variations of the same name, 
and in such an inquiry the pronunciation is of more assistance than the 
spelling, which in that age and for long afterwards was very arbitrary. 

In Fraser the "a" has the sound of the French "6," and the "s" that of 

1 Excerpta e Rotulis finium, vol. ii. pp. 3 His Will and Testament in Manuscript- 
169-200. room, British Museum. 

4 Calend. Inquis. post mortem, pp. 44, 141, 

2 Hundred Rolls, vol. ii. second to eighth 147. 

Edward I. 6 Rotuli Scotia;, vol. i. pp. 131, 134. 


" z;" it is pronounced exactly as "Frezer " would be in the French tongue if 
the final " r " was sounded, and in favour of these and Fresel or Freysel 
having been variations of the same name, are the facts, first, that they all 
were surnames proper, used without the prefixes " de " or " le," and therefore 
neither territorial nor personal surnames ; secondly, that about the end of 
the thirteenth century they were held to be identical by the clerks and 
writers of that age, and that no contradiction of that assumption has been 
found ; and thirdly, that the pronunciation of the first syllable was exactly 
alike in all four. 

It is certain that among the Anglo-Saxons and Anglo-Danes the slender 
sound of the letter "a," as in the words "grace," "place," was in use, and 
also that of the letter " e," as in " the," " he," " me," which are found in 
scarcely any other language than English ; and it is very probable that if the 
name, pronounced Fr^ser or Fresel, were written by Anglo-Saxon or Anglo- 
Danish scribes, the accented " 6 " would be changed to " a ;" and this sugges- 
tion is supported by the introduction of the letter " y " in one form " Freysel," 
evidently with the view of preserving the pronunciation of the name ; while 
the final letters " r " and " 1 " are two liquids very susceptible of interchange. 

The weight of evidence seems to incline to the four different forms of the 
name having been borne by persons of the same race, and it is not difficult 
to discover a source from which they may have sprung. 

In Moreri's "Grande Dictionaire Historique," published at Paris in 1769, 
an account of the family of Frezeau or Frdzel is given, from which an extract 
is here translated. 1 

" Frezeau, or Fr4zel, de la Fr^zeliere, a family in Anjou, is one of the 
most ancient in the kingdom, and most illustrious in that province, where it 
has possessed from time immemorial the Seigneurie of Frezeliere. 

"As regards antiquity, few families can pride themselves on reascending 
so high. Even before custom had distinguished families by surnames, that 
is to say in the 1 1th century, the family of Frezel, or Frezeau, must have 
been very important, for in the Cartulary of the Abbey of Noyers, in 
Touraine, among the donations which were confirmed by King Eobert about 
the year 1030, one is found in which mention is made of two Fr^zels, father 

1 Tom. iv. p. 455. 


and son, who are both styled Chevaliers, a rank not then bestowed upon any 
except those equally distinguished by their nobility and their valour." 

Moreri goes on to say that the civil wars and disturbances in France, 
extending to Anjou, caused the loss of the succeeding pedigree of the 
family until the year 1270, when a Chevalier Geoffry Frezel appears, from 
whom the descent proceeds in regular order, through successive Seigneurs de 
la Frezeliere, to Lancelot Frezel, in 1405, who first adopted the form of 
Frezeau, under which the family continued as Seigneur, and latterly as 
Marquis, and Duke, de la Frezeliere to the middle of the eighteenth century, 
when Moreri wrote. 1 

Aubert des Bois, in his " Dictionaire de la Noblesse," says that the Christian 
name of the Frezel who was a benefactor to the Abbey of Noyers, in Touraine, 
circa 1030, was Bene\ and that he had issue two sons, Bene' and Simon. 

When it is found that the Frezels of Anjou and the English Fresels 
both used the name as a surname proper in that early age, it does not 
require much forcing to deduce the latter race from some junior members of 
the former, and, perhaps, a very possible contraction of Frezeliere into 
Fr&iere, or Fresere, may afford a clue to the cause of the final " 1 " being 
changed into " r " by the Frasers of England and Scotland. 

It may be a matter of doubt whether the Frezels, or Frasers, were 
among those who accompanied William of Normandy to his conquest of 
England in 1066, or whether they entered Britain, at a later date, in the 
suite of Henry of Anjou, afterwards Henry II., when, in 1149, he visited 
his uncle, King David I. of Scotland, and was knighted by him at Carlisle. 

The earliest appearance of the name, as yet discovered in Scottish charters 
or documents, occurs in 1160, some years after the last of the above two 
events, and, indeed, six years after the accession of King Henry n. to the 
throne of England ; but, on the other hand, the member of the race then men- 
tioned was a tenant-in-chief of the King of Scotland, while others of the 
name appear as vassals of the Earls of Dunbar in 1166 ; and it is certainly 

1 In the "Annals of the Frasers," published the head of the French family in 1714; but 

in 1805, which is a copy of a portion of a ms. the tradition of Pierre Fraser and the Thanes 

in the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh, in- of the Isle of Man is also adopted, and the 

tended for publication 1749, the Duke de la whole account is so overlaid with fiction as 

Frezeliere is mentioned as a connection, and to be utterly valueless as an authority. 


more probable that the Eadulph Eraser of 1188-90, or his father, was a cadet 
of the race already settled in Scotland, who attached himself to the young 
Prince Henry on the occasion of his visit to King David, than that all of the 
name in Scotland should have emigrated from Anjou about that time, and 
leaving the fealty of their own sovereign, should have become the subjects of 
a neighbouring monarch. 

There is not much dependence to be placed in the so-called Boll of Battle 
Abbey, for no proof exists that such a roll was ever compiled by the monks 
of that monastery. Joseph Hunter, the author of a paper in the " Sussex 
Archaeological Collections," says : " There are ten lists professing to be lists of 
persons or families who are said to have come with the conqueror. All differ 
in many respects from each other ; many names of families which are known 
not to have settled in England until long after the Conquest are inserted, 
many are omitted of whom there is the best evidence that they were in the 
expedition. It was not until the reign of Elizabeth that any claim was put 
forth on behalf of any of these lists to be the Boll of Battle Abbey, or to be 
in any way connected with the Abbey." 

The number of lists is even greater than that given by Mr. Hunter. There 
are a dozen, or perhaps more ; but the name as " Eraser " is not found in any 
of them. 

In Holinshed's list it appears as Frisell. 

„ Stowe's „ „ Frissell. 

„ Scriven's ,, „ Fresel. 

„ Leland's „ „ Fresell. 

„ Matthew of Westminster's Frysell. 

„ Harl. MSS. 293, p. 37 „ Fresel. 
But it is not in any of the other lists that have been inspected. 

As, however, none of the name rose to any great power or influence in 
England, and the name had nearly if not quite died out in that country by 
the fifteenth century, the only reason for its preservation in some of the lists 
would seem to be that it had been found in some still more ancient record 
of the conqueror's companions. 

A list has been recently prepared by M. Leopold Delisle, a justly celebrated 
antiquary, and in 1862 it was placed in the church of Dives, in Normandy. 


The name of Richard Fresle occurs in it, and in Domesday Book it is 
recorded that " In burgo Snottingham Eicardus Fresle habet 1111 domos;" 
but although he bears the name as a surname proper, it is very doubtful 
whether it can be regarded as a variation of Fresel. 

However this may be, neither the name of Fresel or Freysel, nor those of 
Freser or Fraser, appear in Domesday Book ; but all Northumberland, Cum- 
berland, Westmoreland, and Durham were omitted from that famous survey 
of England, and the connection which, at no great distance of time, existed 
between the descendants of Gospatrick, Earl of Northumberland, and the 
Frasers of Scotland, renders it not unlikely that the first settlement of the 
latter family was to the north of the river Humber. 

Gospatrick the Saxon, or rather Anglo-Dane, contemporary with William 
the Conqueror, who created him Earl of Northumberland, 1 being shortly 
afterwards arbitrarily deprived of that earldom by the hand that conferred 
it, quitted England in disgust, and retiring into Lothian, where he had already 
considerable possessions, obtained an augmentation of these, with the title 
of Comes, or Earl, from Malcolm Canmore, which descended through his 
posterity, bearing the same name, to the year 1166, when Waldeve, the son 
of the last that was styled Gospatrick, became Earl upon the death of his 
father ; and it will be found that one branch of the Frasers first appears as 
feudatory to this Earl Waldeve. 

In tracing the common origin of families, the armorial bearings of each 
are of great importance up to an early date, but there is a still earlier age 
during which they afford scarcely any assistance. 

The various insignia or arms, at first used to distinguish individuals, 
were not, necessarily, adopted by their descendants, and were also not unfre- 
quently changed for others by the caprice of those who bore them ; and it 
was not until the end of the eleventh century, and during the twelfth, that 
the hereditary descent of arms and the right of every member of a family to 
bear the insignia distinguishing the race gradually became established in 
the west of Europe ; and as the separation of the Fresels, if they came into 
England with the Conqueror, from those of the name that remained on the 
Continent, took place in the middle of the eleventh century, it was prior to 

1 Caledonia, vol. ii. p. 238. 


the age in which the armorial bearings of each might be of service in connecting- 
one with the other, and as the Frasers were established as a Scottish family 
by, if not before, the middle of the twelfth century, their armorial bearings 
at that time are scarcely of more consequence. 

The events of the latter portion of the Conqueror's reign, the numerous 
unsuccessful rebellions, especially in the Northumbrian district, not only of 
the conquered English, but also of many of his Norman followers, which were 
suppressed with great severity, and, above all, the discontent produced by the 
decisions of the King and the Great Council, held in 1086, upon the claims of 
many of the barons, caused a large emigration of Normans from England into 
Scotland, where they were well received by King Malcolm, who granted them 
lands, and was not sorry to see his kingdom strengthened by the influx of a 
considerable body of hardy, resolute, and well-trained warriors. The disturb- 
ances that occurred during the reigns of William Eufus and Henry i. 
largely augmented the number of Normans in Scotland, and the sons of 
Malcolm, Alexander I. and David i., followed their father's wise policy of 
cordially welcoming the gallant refugees. 

From the foregoing observations it is apparent that no decision can, with 
certainty, be arrived at, as to whether the Fresels or Frasers entered Britain 
with the Conqueror, or at a later date ; and, indeed, it is possible that 
various members of the race may have emigrated from Anjou at different 
times between 1066 and 1149. 

It is also doubtful whether, at a more remote epoch, they were of North- 
man or Danish descent, or whether they derived their origin from a Frankish 
source. The etymology of the name affords no clue in any of the three 
forms, Frezel, Fresel, or Fraser. The estate of Frezeliere, in Anjou, evidently 
took its name from the proprietors, and is an evidence of the surname having 
been very ancient ; and this affords strong support to the idea of a Frankish 
origin, for the possession of so ancient a surname proper would argue descent 
from the older civilisation, founded on the ruin of Eoman power, rather than 
from the more recent barbarism of the Northman and Danish tribes. 

Having stated as concisely as possible the reasons for believing that the 
Frasers were of the same family as the Fresels of England, and that these 
were a branch of the Frezels de la Frezeliere of Anjou, it only remains to add 


that almost every inquiry into the origin of families in that remote age must 
be more or less hypothetical, and that, in the preceding pages, the writer of 
this history does not pretend to do more than, rejecting fabulous pedigrees 
and punning derivations, to find a fairly probable origin for the Scoto-Norman 
family of Eraser, which the earliest authentic records prove to have been 
settled in East Lothian about the middle of the twelfth century, partly as 
tenants-in-chief of the Crown, and partly as feudatories of the great Earls of 
Dunbar, descendants of Gospatrick, Earl of Northumberland. 

But although their establishment in the south of Scotland at that early 
age is thus authenticated, the lapse of time, and, still more, the unfortunate 
loss and destruction of records, due in no slight degree to the anarchy 
that prevailed in that country during its occupation by Edward i., render it 
difficult to frame any continuous history of the Frasers upon actual proof 
from charters or authentic documentary evidence, or even with approximate 
certainty to carry on the line from father to son, until about the beginning 
of the thirteenth century. 

It is, at the same time, unsafe to rely upon the genealogists and authors 
who have hitherto written upon the subject, unless their statements are 
supported by unquestionable evidence, for some have put forward as facts 
assertions for which they have not adduced a shadow of proof, and these 
have been accepted by others without examination ; thus all have, more or 
less, lent the weight of their authority to errors, which it will be the object 
of the writer of this history to avoid, and, if possible, to rectify. 

Under these circumstances, it will be advisable to relate such information 
respecting those individuals of the race that flourished in Scotland before the 
middle of the thirteenth century as can be gleaned from the authentic, though 
meagre, data of the charters and other documents where their names occur, 
or from State papers in which they are mentioned ; and by a careful con- 
sideration of the positions in which each is found, to connect one with 
another as far as possible, and then to carry on the history of that portion of 
the family to which this work is especially devoted from — to borrow the 
words of the talented author of "Caledonia" — a more perfect period of 



TN 1160, during the reign of Malcolm the Maiden, Simon Fraser granted 
the Church of Keith, then written Keth, with a considerable tract of 
land in its vicinity, to the monks of Kelso. 1 

According to the learned author of "Caledonia," 2 "The parish of Humbie 
comprehends the ancient districts of Keith-Hundeby and Keith-Marshal ; 
the north-west half was called Keith-Hervey, and afterwards Keith-Marshal ; 
the south-east half was named Keith-Simon, from Simon Fraser, which was 
afterwards changed to Keith-Hundeby." 

In 1184 the name of Simon Fraser appears as a witness to a perambula- 
tion of the boundaries of the lands of Mordwheit or Morthwayt, 3 made by 
order of King "William the Lion, who gave them to the Abbey of Newbottle ; 
and his death must have taken place during the next few years, for, in 1190, 4 
his daughter and heiress, Eda, with her husband, Hugh Lorens, confirmed his 
charter of the Church of Keith to the monks of Kelso, and the issue of this 
marriage was a daughter and heiress, also named Eda, who became the 
wife of Philip, the King's Marischal, 5 and the two districts of Keith were 
united in the possession of their son Hervey, the Marischal, 6 by whom, and 
by his son John de Keith, in his turn also Marischal, 7 the grant of Simon 
Fraser to the monks of Kelso was confirmed. 

1 Cart. Kelso, No. 85. '■> Cart. Kelso, No. 87. 

2 Caledonia, vol. ii. p. 532. e Ibid. Nos. 87, 89. 

3 Cart. Newbottle, No. 20. 7 Ibid. No. 88. 

4 Cart. Kelso, No. 86. 

CHAETER by Earl Waldeve to the Monks of Melrose, of Pasture 
on Lamraermuir. [1166-1182.] 

Comes Waldeuus, omnibus fidelibus et amicis, Francis et Anglis, salutem. 

Sciant tam futuri quam presentes me dedisse et confirmasse hac mea carta, 

concessione heredis mei, Deo et Sancte Marie de Melros, et monachis ibidem 

Deo seruientibus, communem pastaram super Lambermoram mecum et cum 

hominibus meis, per has diuisas, scilicet, de Baldredestan per altam uiam 

usque ad Eslingcloh et inde deorsum sicut Heslingcloh cadit in Bothkyl, et 

inde usque in diuisas de Inuerwic ; pro salute anime mee et antecessorum 

meorum et successorum meorum, in perpetuam elemosinam, ita libere et 

quiete et honorifice ab omnibus secularibus seruiciis et consuetudinibus, sicut 

aliqua elemosina liberius et quietius et honorificentius datur uel tenetur : Si 

autem dimiserint pasturam de Inuerwic, caule eorum sequentur pecora sua 

cum logiis suis que pertinent ad ipsas caulas infra has prenominatas diuisas 

sine manuali opere, et meis propriis logiis de Beltun : Hanc donationem ego 

et heredes mei warantizabimus predictis monachis contra omnes homines 

inperpetuum : His testibus, Aelina Comitissa, Radulfo capellano, Johanne 

capellano, Waltero capellano, Hugone de Duns, Patricio fratre comitis, 

Edwardo auunculo comitis, Gilbert Fraser, Adam filio Alden, Alden senes- 

caldo, Gamello de Pethcox, Adam de Foghou, Gilberto filio Walteri, Stephano 

Papedi, Warino Lemalla, Adam filio Eggari, Adam de Edintun. 

[ Vide Translation on page fourth of this sheet.] 

malic; Ijat mel ca?ta cmwbont ^c^edtl ma J 
&ntmet>alttija wp (a*t6eptio2a meat 
^tn uta turn clclawgttol} 7 tnde ckod&Wt l> 



met cti> oi(? tcta^o le^uutjl ^ eonWndtnw U 
tial mtj^ I)al tftu52tcal cUtuUl Lme manucut 

^tK^opapeciu^arwo Walla. Ai£ nU 


^gV>\». J**! (» 

[& ma^te ck «>ei^l."rtt«mat^if tbtcum ico IqnrtOttf 
mnitr mafp ml ctuufef !a%- Jt (>ald^clt3tu>'il/ 

9. wasvL m mjetua eWoltaa. ra Lbqtr-j quiero i l*ma/ 
Ai4cU»La Wx^ qwe^4o Jam? Ja^ui 
sct^G^pia (& <£ Urn, Ui^nm'Umif 

two i*paW*]U£d^^ 
yn» A<kmde€clitttun. 


Earl Waldeve, to all his faithful men and friends, French and English, 
greeting. Know all men, present and to come, that I have given and, by this 
my charter, confirmed, with consent of my heir, to God and St. Mary of 
Melrose, and the monks there serving God, common pasture upon Lamber- 
moor, with me and with my men, by these marches, to wit : From Baldred's 
Stane by the highway as far as Eslingcloh, and thence downwards as Hesling- 
cloh falls into Bothkyl, and thence as far as the marches of Inuerwic ; for 
the safety of my soul and the souls of my predecessors and successors, in 
perpetual alms, as freely and quietly and honourably, free from all secular 
services and customs, as any alms is freely and quietly and honourably 
given or held. And if they shall quit the pasture of Inuerwic, their sheep- 
cots shall follow the flocks, with their bothies that pertain to the said cots 
within the before-named marches, without manual labour, and along with my 
own bothies of Beltun. This gift I and my heirs shall warrant to the 
foresaid monks against all men for ever. Witnesses, Aelina the Countess, 
Radulf the chaplain, John the chaplain, Walter the chaplain, Hugh of 
Duns, Patrick brother of the Earl, Edward uncle of the Earl, Gilbert 
Fraser, Adam son of Alden, Alden the steward, Gamell of Pethcox, Adam 
of Foghou, Gilbert son of Walter, Stephan Papedi, Warin Lemalla, Adam 
son of Edgar, Adam of Edintun. 


Chalmers, in " Caledonia," says that the above grant was confirmed by- 
King Malcolm, and quotes Cart. Kelso, No. 90, in support of this ; but that 
confirmation relates only to a grant made by the King himself, and he did 
not confirm Simon Fraser's charter. 

Both that charter and the confirmation by his daughter and her heirs 
were, however, confirmed by William the Lion and Alexander n., 1 without 
the intervention of any subject-superior, and it therefore appears that the 
lands were held in chief of the Crown. 

Simon Fraser's line, probably the senior and most influential, from 
having been tenants-in-chief of the Crown at that date, therefore terminated 
in a daughter and heiress, through whom and her heirs the estates belonging 
to him passed into the family of De Keith. 


Contemporary with Simon Fraser of Keith in 1166, Gilbert Fraser 
appears as a witness to a confirmation by William the Lion, of a charter 
granted by Waldeve the Earl, son of Gospatrick, to the monks of Colding- 
hame, 2 and he was also a witness to another charter from the same Earl 
"Waldeve to the monks of Melrose, 3 which, though without date, must have 
been granted before 1182, as the Earl died in that year. 

A facsimile of this last charter is in the National Manuscripts of Scotland, 
and the name there appears " Fraser." 

Whether Crauford be the originator of a mistake now to be noticed, or 
copied it from some earlier source, it appears in his " Lives of Officers of 
State," 4 has thence been adopted by Chalmers in "Caledonia," 5 and, upon 
his authority, transferred to the pages of other writers. 

It consists in the confusion of this Gilbert Fraser with a certain " Kylvert, 
Culvut, or Kylward," for his name is found under these different forms, 
who was contemporary with him, and who, with his descendants, became 

1 Cart. Kelso, Nos. 91, 93. 4 Lives of Officers of State, p. 270. 

2 Cart. Coldinghame, No. oxiv. 5 Caledonia, voL i. p. 555. 

3 Cart. Melrose, No. 76. 


allied to the Erasers in the next generation ; and it will be necessary here to 
give the reasons for differing from these authorities on this point, and regard- 
ing Gilbert Fraser and Kylvert as separate persons. 

In spite of the similarity of sound, Kylvert does not seem to be a form of 

Gilbert is a Norman or French name, a contraction from its old form 
"Gislebert," 1 while Kylvert, and its variations Kylward and Culvut, are a 
Saxon name, and are so found in Simeon of Durham and other writers ; but, 
independently of this, there is still stronger evidence in the fact that all the 
individuals of the Fraser family are found bearing that surname, the single 
temporary exception to this rule being an " Adam," who calls himself Adam, 
films Udardi, in two of his charters, though in others he styles himself 
Adam Fraser, filius Udardi Fraser, but in no instance are Kylvert or 
any member of his family found to bear the surname of Fraser, or ariy 
surname whatever (with the exception of his daughter Maria, who took 
the territorial surname of " de Hales "), and this is the more remark- 
able, as their names occur repeatedly in the same charters with those of 
the Frasers. 

The Saxon and Scoto-Danish families in Scotland continued the use 
of patronymics instead of surnames for a considerable time after their 
association with the Normans, of whom many bore surnames proper, or 
territorial, at the time of the conquest of England in 1066, while the 
remainder assumed them not long after that event ; and of this the great 
Earls of Dunbar, descended from a Saxon or Anglo-Danish race, are a 
conspicuous example. 2 

This great family, from the time of its retirement into Scotland during 
the latter half of the eleventh century down to the middle of the thirteenth 
century, and even later, shows a succession of several Gospatricks, a Waldeve, 
and a further succession of Patricks, without a surname having been borne 
by any of the line ; and the following are among some of the most curious 
instances of this : — 

1 Domesday Book, vol. iii. p. 532. March, and occasionally Earls of Lothian, but 

- This powerful family is found under the the first of these titles is applied to them in 
designations of Earls of Dunbar, Earls of these pages. 


1st, The notice of a visit made by Patrick, 1 the first of that name, Earl of 
Dunbar, to the shrine of St. Cuthbert, at Durham, which is thus recorded — 
" Comes Patricius junior Alius Waldevi Comitis 
Patricius avunculus ejus et Cecilia uxor illius 
Et Willelmus Alius ejus." 

2d, William, Earl Patrick's second son, married Christiana Corbet, heiress 
of Walter Corbet, and their two sons, Patrick and Nicolas, both assumed 
their mother's surname of Corbet, though Foghou, to which Patrick suc- 
ceeded, Nicolas receiving their mother's estate of Makarston, had been 
given to their father by Earl Patrick. 2 

3^, Another William, the son of Earl Waldeve's brother Patrick, having 
married his cousiu Ada, a widow, who had received the lands of Home from 
her father, Earl Patrick, on her first union with one of the De Courtenay 
family, took the name of Home as a territorial surname, which was after- 
wards used by his descendants as a surname proper. 3 

The fact that Kylvert and his children never bore the surname of Fraser, 
renders it impossible to consider them members of that family ; and the 
absence of any surname whatever, with the exception noticed above, points 
to his having been of Scoto-Saxon or Scoto-Danish race. 

He, or his son, appears to have held the lands of Hales, in East Lothian, 
as a feudatory of the Earls of Dunbar, and they also seem to have had 
large possessions in the district of Tweeddale. 

His family will be seen to have consisted of two sons, 4 Oliver and Adam, 5 
and two daughters, one married to a Fraser, the other styling herself Maria 
de Hales. 


All that is known of Udard Fraser is gathered from the occurrence of 
his name in the charters of some of his descendants, 6 from which it appears 
that he lived during the latter half of the twelfth century, and that he 

1 " Liber Vitse," p. 99. from Adam, filius Udanli, or Adam Fraser, 

2 Caledonia, vol. ii. p. 307. "was a witness to a charter by his sister, Maria 

3 Ibid. vol. ii. p. 241. de Hales, filia Kylverti. — Cart. Nevvbottle, 

4 Cart. Newbottle, Nos. 73, 92. No. 92. 

5 Adam, filius Kylverti, a different person e Cart. Newbottle, Nos. 74, 76, 77. 


married a sister of Oliver, son of the Kylvert just mentioned, who is said to 
have been the founder of Oliver Castle, in Tweeddale, 1 and in all probability 
was so, and whom Adam Fraser, Udard Eraser's son, will be found to call 
avunculus, which, though sometimes used for uncle on either side, means 
maternal uncle, unless the context affords evidence to the contrary ; patruus 
being the proper term to express that relationship on the father's side. 2 


In several charters granted by the first Patrick, Earl of Dunbar, who 
held the earldom from 1182 to 1232, and in others by Walter, son of Allan, 
" dapifer " to William the Lion, the name of Thomas Fraser is found as a 
witness. 3 

He also witnessed an agreement between the Earl and the monks of 
Melrose, 4 to which Bricius, Bishop of Moray, was an assenting party in curia 
regis, 1208 ; and his having been at that time of sufficient age and rank to 
be present at a Court, where the documents show that the King presided in 
person, renders it probable that he was contemporary with Udard Fraser, but 
no trace remains of his parentage or descendants. 

During the first half of the thirteenth century the names of Bernard 
Fraser, Gilbert Fraser, and Adam Fraser are found, and the last of these is 
expressly designated as the son of Udard Fraser ; but as the three appear to 
have been closely connected, in giving some account of each they may be 
taken in the order which their relative importance would seem to assign to 

1 Caledonia, vol. i. p. 555 ; vol. ii. p. 918. nicler, and induced him to substitute the less 

2 An instance of avunculus being used for correct, but more euphonious expression, 
paternal uncle appears in the passage from 3 Cart. Melrose, Nos. 48, 72, 74, 77, 101, 
the Liber Vita? of Durham, but the evident 104. 

jingle between Patricius and patruus may i Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. i. 

have offended the ear of the monkish chro- pp. 69*, 70*. 


It will be necessary, however, before relating the career of the first of these 
three, to notice that there appears to have existed a Bernard Eraser of earlier 

In the register of the Priory of St. Andrews there is found an agreement 
made by G. (Gilbert I.), the Prior and the Convent of St. Andrews, with Bernard 
Fraser " et heredes de Drem," concerning a chapel at Drem, and some lands 
for the sustentation of the chaplain. 1 The date appears to be fixed between 
1186 and 1 188, by that having been the duration of the first Gilbert's tenure 
of the office of Prior, and by there having been no other whose name began 
with G. until the election of Gilbert II. in 1258. Bernard Fraser is not 
styled dominus de Drem, and the expression " et heredes de Drem," invariably 
repeated after his name in the document, seems to distinguish them from his 
own heirs, and they may have been female heirs-portioners, of whom he was 
either the feudal superior, or had received the ward or guardianship. 

A second agreement is also found in the register of St. Andrews, word for 
word the same as the one above mentioned, except that the initial S. (for 
Simon, who was Prior from 1211 to 1225) is inserted instead of G. 2 

It appears certain that this last agreement is a copy of that made between 
1186 and 1188, and that the initial letter of the Prior's name had been mis- 
read, for the witnesses are identical in both, and the names of at least two 
of them, Simon Fraser and Willelmus de Grame, belong to the former era. 

In the agreement it is stated that Bernard Fraser " et heredes de Drem " 
shall hold the chapel as freely and quietly as any knight among their 
equals holds one, " adeo liberam et quietam sicut aliquis miles de paribus 
suis habet." 

It would seem, therefore, that this earlier person of the name had attained 
to a certain importance before 1186 ; and he cannot be regarded as the same 
Bernard Fraser who is found in positions of minor importance during the 
earlier years of the thirteenth century, and only rose to influence and power 
under the Crown about 1230. There must, therefore, have been two persons 
of the name, both of whom will be found to have had some connection with 
the estate of Drem, although other circumstances hereafter related militate 
against their being considered father and son. 

1 Reg. Friorat. St. Andrews, p. 40. 2 Ibid. p. 322. 



Nothing, except his agreement with the Prior of St. Andrews, is to be 
found respecting the first ; but the second became a person of considerable 
importance, and is also the earliest concerning whom information can be 
obtained, beyond the mere proof of existence from an isolated mention of a 


His name, or that of the above-mentioned elder Bernard, is found as a 
witness to a charter by Patrick, Earl of Dunbar, and also to another by 
Walter, the son of Alan the " dapifer," during the reign of William the Lion j 1 
but it must have been he who witnessed several other charters of later date, 
granted by Earl Patrick, and by his two sons (Patrick, who succeeded to the 
earldom about 1332, and William, who married Christiana Corbet), during 
their father's lifetime. 2 

Bernard Fraser appears as a witness to charters of lands in Milnehalech 
of North Hales, granted by Maria de Hales, daughter of Kylvert, and sister 
of Oliver, in her widowhood, to the monks of Newbottle ; 3 and he also wit- 
nessed the confirmation of these charters by the Earl of Dunbar; 4 but, 
notwithstanding this, he afterwards laid claim to the very same possessions, 
and succeeded in evicting them from Maria de Hales by virtue of his here- 
ditary right to them, which right she acknowledged in the court of the 
overlord, the Earl of Dunbar, at the same time confessing that she had no 
such right. He, however, only took this step for the purpose of regranting 
them to the monks of Newbottle in his own name. 

His charter was witnessed by the king, Alexander II., the Chancellor, 
William de Bondington, who received that appointment in 1230-31, and 
Nesius de Londres, and was therefore not earlier than the above date. 5 

It is rather difficult, from the meagre records of these documents, to 
clearly understand this transaction, for as Bernard Fraser had hereditary 
right to those lands, which Maria de Hales acknowledged, it does not appear 

1 Cart. Melrose, Nos. 120, 73. 3 Cart. Newbottle, Nos. 91, 92. 

2 Cart. Coldingbame, Nos. cxviii., cxxv., 4 Ibid. No. 93. 

cxxvi., exxxiii., cxxxiv. 5 Cart. Newbottle, No. 94. 


how she obtained the power of granting charters of them, 1 unless, indeed, it 
was an usurpation on her part, from her relationship to Kylvert and Oliver, 
which ultimately was overcome by Bernard Eraser's stronger hereditary right, 
probably derived from the same persons. 

Bernard Fraser was dominus or lord, if not of the whole, at all events of 
a considerable portion of Forton and Linton, both situated in East Lothian ; 
for he confirmed charters affecting lands therein, which had been granted by 
Nesius, the son of Nesius, and by the two sons of John de Londres, Nesius 
de Londres, and John de Murreff or Moravia. He terms Nesius de Londres 
" fratre meo," my brother (in law), but he does not extend the same appella- 
tion to John de Moravia as he would have done had he married a sister of 
both : Nesius de Londres may have married a sister of his. 

It is necessary here to advert to, and, as far as possible, rectify some con- 
fusion respecting the name of Nesius, into which various authors appear to 
have been led by the mistake of confounding the earliest Gilbert Fraser with 
Kylvert, which has been already noticed. 

They have employed the name of " Ness " as a family or generic name, 
and have vaguely stated that Maria de Hales, a daughter of Kylvert or 
Gilbert Fraser, married a " Ness," and that Bernard Fraser's mother was a 
daughter of " Ness," Lord of Forton, without in any way defining which 
individual of that name is referred to in each case. 

Nothing can be found in support of either assertion in the charters, nor 
evidence of any other matrimonial connection between the Frasers and any 
one of the name of Ness, except that above mentioned existing between 
Bernard Fraser and Nesius de Londres ; and it will be also seen that Nes, or 
Nesius, was a personal or Christian name, and not the surname of a family 
at that time. 

A Nesius, son of William, attended the court of Malcolm iv., and that of 
William the Lion, before 1171. 2 

1 In her charters Maria de Hales mentions and designated as son of William Nobilis, 

the marches between the lands of North granted lands in PeS'er and East Forton to 

Hales and those belonging to her "nepotis," the monks, No. 118. The name of Maria's 

probably nephew, Randulphi. A Randulphus husband ma}' have been " Noble." 
Nobilis was a witness to a charter by 2 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. i. 

John de Moravia, Cart. Newbottle, No. 113, pp. 53*, 64*. 



A Nesius, son of Nesius, witnessed, in company with the Countess Ada, 
natural daughter of King William, a charter granted by her husband, Patrick, 
Earl of Dunbar, 1 not later than 1200, as she, according to Fordun, died in 
that year. 

ISTesius, son of Nesius, granted two charters to the monks of Newbottle 
during the first few years of the thirteenth century. 2 One of these, granted 
in 1205, was confirmed by ISTesius de Londres not later than 1214, 3 in which 
year John, Bishop of Dunkeld, one of the witnesses to the confirmation, 
died. 4 

John de Londres, contemporary with Nesius, son of Nesius, witnessed 
charters at the court of William the Lion before 1200. 5 

Nesius de Londres, in his charters to the monks of Newbottle, styled 
himself son of John de Londres, and called Nesius, son of Nesius, whose 
charters he confirmed, " avunculus," or maternal uncle, 6 from which it may be 
inferred that John de Londres had married a sister of Nesius, son of Nesius, 
and that Nesius de Londres succeeded to his uncle's property through her, 
his mother. His grant was " in feudo meo de Forton." 

It is apparent from the above short sketch that " Ness " was not the sur- 
name of this family. The two earliest that bore it appear to have had no 
surnames, but to have been designated by patronymics, and the third bore it as 
a Christian name before his surname of de Londres, which he inherited from 
his father, and there is no trace of any connection between the family and 
Maria de Hales, or any of Kylvert's children. 

Bernard Fraser, as superior, or as successor of Nesius de Londres, confirmed 
the charters of both Nesius, son of Nesius, and Nesius de Londres ; and in 
the confirmation, to which Queen Ermengarde, who died in 1233/ was a 
witness, Nesius de Londres, who had witnessed his charter of Milnehalech 
not earlier than 1230-31, is said to be dead. " Sicut in cartis utriusque Nesii 
continetur et sicut eodem anno et die quo predictus Nesius de Londres frater 
meus vivus fuit et mortuus." 8 

1 Cart. Newbottle, No. 75. 

2 Ibid. Nos. 109, 111. 

3 Ibid. No. 112. 

4 Chron. Melrose, p. 115. 

5 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. 
p. 65*. 

6 Cart. Newbottle, Nos. 107, 112. 

7 Cliron. Melrose, p. 143. 

8 Cart. Newbottle, No. 110. 


John de Murriff, or Moravia, in the two charters granted by him, is called 
son of John de Londres, and brother of Nesius de Londres. 1 It is possible 
that these expressions may mean son-in-law and brother-in-law. He 
acquired lands from Nesius de Londres in West Forton and Linton, and in 
one of his charters affecting lands in Linton, he styled Bernard Fraser 
" domino meo ;" 2 — Patrick, Earl of Dunbar, in his confirmation of the other 
in West Forton as overlord, stating that Bernard Eraser had already con- 
firmed it. 3 

These properties in Forton and Linton, probably in part paternal lands, 
and in part acquired by succession to Nesius de Londres, together with a 
portion of North Hales, which seems to have been derived hereditarily from 
another source, formed a considerable estate in the most fertile part of Scot- 
land, of which Bernard Fraser was the owner and mid-superior, for he himself 
appears to have held it as a feudatory of the great Earls of Dunbar. 4 

In the charters and documents of that day the name of de Londres is 
also written de London, and de Lundin, and if Nesius de Londres or Lundin 
was related to the illegitimate children of William the Lion, Bobert, and 
William, who bore that surname, the connection between him and Bernard 
Fraser may in some degree account for the latter having entered the service 
of the Crown about the year 1230. He may also have distinguished himself 
in the various wars and expeditions carried on by Alexander n., and by that 
means may have attracted the notice of the King. 

However this may be, after that date he appears in very constant attend- 
ance at the royal court, and soon rose to eminence under his wise and gallant 
sovereign. He was a frequent witness to charters by him or others, in which 
his name is found in a very high position, and in general immediately follow- 
ing that of the Senescallus (Steward), or some other high official of the 
kingdom. 6 

He was appointed Vicecomes, or Sheriff, of Stirling, and in the recital of 
a charter granted by Alexander n. to the monks of Newbottle in 1234, he 
appears in that capacity as " noster Vicecomes de Striveline," associated with 

1 Cart. Newbottle, Nos. 113, 114. 5 Cart. Moravia, No. 40. Cart. Newbottle, 

2 Ibid. No. 114. Nos. 22, 24. Cart. Holyrood, No. 5S. Cart. 

3 Ibid. No. 115. Melrose, Nos. 73, 130, 203, 213, 215, 218, 

4 Ibid. No. 115. 219, 228, 248, 257, 278, 302. 


Elyas, Abbot of Holyroocl, in an arbitration and perambulation of marches, 
upon which the royal charter is based. 1 After this date his name is usually 
found as " Dominus Bernardus Fraser, Miles " (Knight). 

It is probable, from his appointment as Vicecomes of Stirling, that he 
had acquired possessions in that district, and that the estate of Touch-fraser 
took its appellation from him; but the fact cannot be established by authentic 
evidence, in consequence of the paucity of early Stirlingshire records still 
extant. Not many years after his death, however, a family of the name, 
descended from Sir Gilbert Fraser, will be found holding that estate, with 
others in the district, which tradition affirms to be those that had belonged 
to him. 

On the 17th of August 1233, at Stirling, Alexander II. confirmed an 
agreement between the prior and monks of the Isle of May, in the Firth of 
Forth, and Bernard Fraser, by which the latter feued to that priory, in 
perpetuity, the whole lands of Dremes-sheles (the schealings or upland 
grazings of Drern), to be held by the prior and his successors from him and 
his heirs. 2 

Although this document might seem, at first sight, to infer some succes- 
sion on the part of the grantor to the elder person of the same name who, 
as already noticed, dealt with the estate of Drem, yet the terms of the two 
agreements are so different as not to afford much support to that conjecture. 
Iu this last there is no mention of the "heredes de Drem;" but Bernard 
Fraser deals with the lands as his own, and his heirs " heredibus suis " are 
only incidentally named as those of whom they are to be held after him. 
His hereditary right to other property, mentioned above, also appears at 
variance with his having succeeded to these lands in a similar manner. 
Perhaps he may have acquired his right to that part of the estate by marriage 
with one of the " heredes," if they were heirs-female ; but whatever his con- 
nection with Drem, it seems to have terminated at or before his decease, for, 
so far as has been ascertained, that property is not among those held by any 
of the Fraser name in the next, nor any succeeding generation. 

In 1237 Sir Bernard Fraser accompanied Alexander II. to the meeting 
with Henry HI. at York, and was one of the " magnates " or barons of Scot- 
1 Cart. Newbottle, No. 165. - Cart. Isle of May (St. Andrews), No. 20. p. 16. 


land that swore to the observance of the peace then concluded between his 
sovereign and the King of England. 1 

His name is found for the last time in 1247 as a witness to a royal 
charter in favour of the abbot and monks of Lindores, 3 and he seems to have 
died about the same time as the monarch whom he had so long served, viz., 
about 1249-50, for his name does not appear as that of a living man in any 
later document. 

Mr. Anderson, " History of the Family of Fraser," p. 9, says that Sir 
Bernard Fraser lived until the year 1258, and in proof of this adduces a 
charter of the church of Foghou, from William, son of Patrick, Earl of 
Dunbar, to the monks of Kelso, which was witnessed by him, " though no 
date be mentioned," says Mr. Anderson, " evidently about the year 1258;" 
but the death of William, the grantor, in 1252 is upon record, 3 and therefore 
Mr. Anderson must have been mistaken as to the date. 

He also, at the same page, states positively, " To Bernard Fraser succeeded 
his son, Sir Gilbert," and quotes " Caledonia," vol. i. p. 554 ; but that autho- 
rity does not bear out his assertion. The word there used is not " son," but 
" relative," which is probable enough. 

In the "Annals of the Frasers," published 1795, and some Ms. histories, 
are statements that Sir Bernard Fraser married Mary Ogilvie, daughter of 
Gilchrist, Thane of Angus, and by her had four sons, Simon, Andrew, Gilbert, 
and William, and two daughters, Fenella, married to Sir Colin Campbell 
of Lochaw, and Helen, who died a nun at Coldinghame. Of these, so 
called, sons, three, Simon, Andrew, and William, will be found to have 
been the children of a Sir Gilbert Fraser ; and for the marriage with 
Mary Ogilvie, and the existence of the two daughters, there is no authentic 

Crawfurd, " Lives of Officers of State," p. 270, without giving any authority, 
also says that Simon Fraser was a son of Sir Bernard Fraser, and, p. 269, has 
the following passage : — " This Bernard was High Sheriff of the county of 
Stirling in the time of Alexander u., which we find continued iu his descend- 
ants down to the grandchildren of the Lord Chamberlain, whose life I am 
1 Rynier's Foedera, vol. i. p. 376. 2 Robertson's Index, p. 76, No. 92. 3 Chron. Melrose, p. 179. 


If this were correct, and the sheriffship had continued in the Fraser 
name without any break, it might lead to the inference that Sir Bernard 
Fraser left a son ; but Crawfurd was mistaken, and it was not the case. 
During a great part of the reign of Alexander hi. John de Lambyrton was 
Vicecomes of Stirling, after him Patrick de Grahame held the office down 
to 1292, and it is not until 1293 that a Fraser is again found in that position. 
It will be seen also that those of the name who afterwards possessed estates in 
Stirlingshire, with the sheriffship, and the one to whom the property in North 
Hales passed, were not Sir Bernard's actual descendants, but those of Sir 
Gilbert and Adam Fraser, and these considerations point strongly to the 
conclusion that Sir Bernard Fraser left no issue. 


The first notice that is found of the name of this Gilbert Fraser occurs 
in the charter of a meadow near Pouerhov, in East Lothian, granted by Nesius, 
son of Nesius, to the monks of Ne-wbottle before 1214, 1 to which he was a 
witness along with Alexander de St. Martin Vicecomes, Hugh Giffard, and 
others. Though this is the only occasion upon which his name is found 
as a witness to any charter dealing with lands in East Lothian, it to a certain 
extent shows a connection with that district. 

He appears to have had sufficient talent to raise himself to the position 
of an official of the Crown about the same time as Sir Bernard Fraser, for 
in 1233 Alexander II. addressed a precept to Gilbert Fraser, Vicecomes de 
Traquair, ordering him to try a cause then pending between William, Bishop 
of Glasgow, and a Mariota, daughter of Samuel, who resigned her claim to the 
lands of Stobhou, those in dispute, "in curiam Vicecomitis de Traquaire;" 2 
and in the same year, as Vicecomes, he was a witness to a second resigna- 
tion of those lands by Eugene, the son of Anabell, another daughter of 
Samuel. 3 

There are also extant two other precepts or mandates from Alexander II. 

1 Cart. Newbottle, No. 111. 2 Cart. Glasgow, No. 130. 3 Ibid. No. 131. 


addressed to Gilbert Fraser, Vicecomes de Traquair ; the date of the second 
is 1242, and the first was probably issued before that year. 1 It desires J. de 
Vallibus, Vicecomes of Edinburgh, G. Freser, Vicecomes of Traquair, 1ST. de 
Heris, forestar, and W. de Penycook, to ascertain the boundaries of the pastures 
of Lethanhope, exclusive of the common pasture belonging to the town of 
Inverlethan, and to report their extent and value to the King ; and the second 
orders him, in the exercise of his office, to imprison all excommunicated 
persons whom the bishop of Glasgow, his archdeacon, official, or dean should 
designate as haviug been for forty days under the censure of the church. 2 

His name is also found as Vicecomes of Traquair among the witnesses to 
a charter of Ingolfhiston, granted by Christiana, quondam filia Ade, filii 
Gilberti, to the chapel of St. Mary of Ingolfhiston, between the years 1233 
and 1249. 3 The other witnesses are Sir David de Graham, Sir Alexander de 
Hunyot, William de Malvill, John Venator (Hunter), and some others. 

An inquiry, by means of an assize or species of jury, 4 composed of 
dominus Nes Freser, dominus Henricus de Candela, Willelmus de Malevill, 
and nine others, was held in 1259 to ascertain the justice of a former verdict 
given at a trial, concerniug the lands of Hopkelchoc, in the court of Gilbertus 
Fraser, miles, Vicecomes de Peebles. 

The above records prove that Sir Gilbert Fraser held both sheriffships, 
Traquair and Peebles, and was the principal official of the Crown in that 
extensive district ; and to attain to that position he must not only have been 
an able man, but in all probability must have acquired considerable estates 
there, to which supposition the possession of large property in the same 
district by his descendants, and the succession of one of his sons to the two 
sheriffships afford strong support. 

It must have been during his tenure of office that the occurrence took 
place thus related by Fordun. 5 " On the 9th of May 1261, in the thirteenth 
year of King Alexander, a stately and venerable cross was found at Peebles, 
in the presence of good men, priests, clerics, and burgesses, but it is quite 

1 Caledonia, vol. ii. p. 920 ; a.d. 1241, 3 Cart. Glasgow, No. 150. 

Origines Parockiales, vol. i. p. 216; Cart. 4 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 

Newbottle, No. 121. vol. i. p. SS, documents subjoined to preface. 

2 Caledonia, vol. ii. p. 920 ; Origines Paro- 5 Fordun, Gesta Annalia liv. Translation 
chiales, vol. i. p. 220. by Mr. F. Skene. 



unknown in what year and by what person it was hidden there. It is, 
however, believed that it was hidden by some of the faithful about the year 
of our Lord 296, while Maximian's persecution was raging in Britain. Not 
long after this a stone urn was discovered there, about three or four paces from 
the spot where that glorious cross had been found. It contained the ashes and 
bones of a man's body, torn limb from limb as it were. Whose relics these 
are no one knows as yet. Some, however, think they are the relics of him 
whose name was inscribed on the very stone wherein the holy cross was 
lying. Now there was carved on that stone, outside, ' Tomb of the Bishop 
Saint Nicholas.' Moreover, in the very spot where the cross was found, 
many a miracle was and is wrought by that cross ; and the people poured, and 
still pour, thither in crowds, devoutly bringing their offerings and vows to 
God. Wherefore the King, by the advice of the Bishop of Glasgow, had a 
handsome church made there to the honour of God and the Holy Cross." 

Sir Gilbert Fraser probably died about 1263, for his son is found as 
Vicecomes of Traquair in 1264. His wife's name was Christiana, but that of 
the family to which she belonged does not appear ; she was certainly the 
mother of one of his four sons, and probably of the other three. 

John, ancestor of the Frasers of Touch-fraser. 

Simon, who succeeded to the sheriffships, mentioned as brother of Andrew 
and William. 

Andrew, mentioned as son of Sir Gilbert Fraser. 

William, mentioned as brother of Simon and Andrew. 


Oliver, the son of Kylvert, with the consent of Beatrix, his wife, granted 
to the monks of Newbottle a charter of some lands " in tellure de Hale." 1 
The date of the gift is fixed in or before 1189, for Jocelyne, Bishop of 
Glasgow, and Ernauld, Abbot of Melrose, were witnesses to it, the latter of 
whom was translated to the Abbey of Eieville in that year. 2 Oliver, there- 
fore, may have acquired the lands of Hales through his wife. 

1 Cart. Newbottle, No. 73. 2 Chron. Melrose, p. 97. 


Patrick, Earl of Dunbar, confirmed this charter by Oliver in or before 
1200, 1 as the confirmation was witnessed by Ada, his Countess, who, according 
to Fordun, died in that year ; Nesius, son of Nesius, being also a witness 
to it. 

The record of a perambulation and arbitration is extant, 2 which was held 
to settle a contention between the monks of Newbottle and William de 
Vallibus concerning the marches of certain lands ; and in the document " D. 
Oliverus Nesius William de Montfort and William de Grahame " appear as 
the arbitrators. If Oliver Nesius be the name of a sinsile individual, there is 
no evidence to show who he was ; but if, as is probable, the " D " stands for D m 
(Domini), which would embrace all the members of the Court, the names may 
be held to be those of this Oliver, and of the Nesius, son of Nesius, already 
noticed. There is no date affixed to the arbitration, but from the persons 
engaged in it, and the names of the witnesses to it, Eichard Eydel, William 
de Grahame, Bernard Fraser, William Noble, etc., and from the matters with 
which it deals, it appears to have taken place during the first fifteen or twenty 
years of the thirteenth century. 

Chalmers, in "Caledonia," 3 ascribes the foundation of Oliver Castle, in 
Tweeddale, to this son of Kylvert, and it is probable that he is correct in 
doing so, for the first mention of that place, afterwards the seat of a branch 
of the Frasers, is found about the time when he flourished, in a description 
of the marches between Stobo, Hopprew, and Orde ; two of the numerous 
witnesses being designated Adam and Cosvold, sons of Muryn " aput Castrum 
Oliveri." 4 

Adam, filius Udardi, 5 sometimes written Odoardi, confirmed the above 
charter granted by Oliver, using the same expression, " in tellure de Hale," 
and terming Oliver " avunculus meus ;" and a passage in the confirmation, 
" per easdem divisas per quas illam tenuerunt " (the monks) " in vita, predicti 
Oliveri," shows that it was granted after Oliver's death. Adam therefore 
succeeded his maternal uncle in the lands of Hales. 

Under the same appellation he granted to the monks a second charter of 

1 Cart. Newbottle, No. 75. 4 Cart. Glasgow, p. S9, No. 104. 

2 Ibid. No. 119. 5 Cart. Newbottle, No. 74. 

3 Caledonia, vol. i. p. 555 ; vol. ii. p. 9 IS. 


certain lands, in augmentation of those already given to them, and these were 
also " in tellure de Hale." 1 This charter was witnessed " D no Bernardo 
Fraser, Simone de Lindesay, Johanne de Cadela, et multis aliis." 

But he also granted another charter of Suythrig, in Suythale — Southrig, 
in South Hale — to the monks, 2 and in it he termed himself Adam Fraser, 
and mentioned Constantia his wife. 

The Earl of Dunbar, as overlord or superior of the lands of Hales, 3 in his 
confirmation of these charters, recites that the gifts are those of Oliver, the 
uncle of Adam Fraser, the son of Udard Fraser, " Oliveri, avunculi d 1 " Ade 
Fraser, filii Odoardi Fraser," and the Earl's two sons, Patrick and William, 
with Bernard Fraser, Thomas de Gordoun, and others, were witnesses to the 

Adam, the son of Udard, was a witness to one of the charters * granted by 
Maria de Hales of those lands which Bernard Fraser evicted from her, and he 
is also found, in company with Bernard Fraser and John Giffard, a witness 
to a confirmation by William de Vallibus 5 of a charter granted by William 
Noble to the monks of Newbottle, 6 not earlier than 1214, as Hugh, Bishop of 
Dunkeld, who succeeded Bishop John in that year, was a witness to it ;" and 
with Bernard Fraser and others, 8 he witnessed an agreement between John 
de Morham and Bichard, Abbot of Newbottle from 1214 to 12 16. 9 

The temporary disuse of his surname by Adam Fraser is a curious fact, 
but the most reasonable explanation of it seems to be that he was brought up 
in the family of his maternal uncle, Oliver, a Scoto-Saxon or Scoto-Dane, 
where surnames were not in use, and where he would only be known as the 
son of Udard, though, after the death of his uncle, he resumed his surname 
on associating more freely with his own Norman relatives that bore it. 

There is no record of the death of Adam Fraser, but he left at least one 

Laurence, who will be found to have possessed the lauds of Drurnelzier, in 
Tweeddale, with those of Hales, in East Lothian, and also to have succeeded 

1 Cart. Newbottle, No. 76. 6 Cart. Newbottle, No. 116. 

2 Ibid. No. 77. 7 Chron. Melrose, p. 115. 

3 Ibid. No. 79. s Cart. Newbottle, No. 90. 

* Ibid. No. 91. 3 Chron. Melrose, pp. 115, 124. 

6 Ibid. No. 117. 


to that part of North Hales which had been the hereditary property of Sir 
Bernard Fraser, and who confirmed the charters affecting the lands of Hales, 
granted to the monks of Newbottle by Oliver, the son of Kylvert, by Adam 
Fraser, the son of Udard Fraser, and by Sir Bernard Fraser. 

As the view which the writer of this history has taken respecting those 
individuals of the Fraser race that have been already noticed differs so 
materially from that hitherto countenanced by the highest authorities, it may 
be as well to review the circumstances upon which it is based, and to point 
out how they affect the argument as regards each person. 

The three earliest names, those of Simon Fraser, the first Gilbert Fraser, 
and the first Bernard Fraser, appear contemporaneously from 1160 to 1190, 
and are followed by those of Udard Fraser and Thomas Fraser in the next 

Whether Gilbert Fraser and Bernard Fraser were Simon Fraser's brothers, 
or Udard Fraser and Thomas Fraser sons of Gilbert Fraser or Bernard Fraser, 
are points altogether lost in obscurity, upon which not a scintilla of evidence 
remains to enable an opinion to be formed, except the apparent connection of 
all five with the district of East Lothian. The positions in which their names 
are found, however, prove the existence of the race in Scotland by the middle 
of the twelfth century, and show that the members of it held a respectable 
rank among the barons and landowners of that part of the country. 

With regard to the second Bernard Fraser, the second Gilbert Fraser, and 
Adam Fraser, there is a little more light afforded by the documents in which 
their names appear, and here it may be repeated that the entire absence of 
the use of any surname whatever (except in the case of Maria de Hales) by 
Kylvert and his family, is conclusive evidence that they were not Frasers, 
and affords good reason for believing that they were not Normans, and that a 
Scoto-Saxon or a Scoto-Danish descent may be ascribed to them. 

Sir Bernard Fraser held considerable possessions and superiorities in East 
Lothian as a vassal of the Earls of Dunbar, which seem to have been, to 
some extent, the family estates inherited by him, yet he also asserted and 
maintained his hereditary right to Milnhalech, and other lands in North 
Hales ; and as all Hales, both north and south, with exception of those 
lauds, appears to have belonged to Oliver, the son of Kylvert, the only way 


in which he could acquire that hereditary right would seem to have been 
through some member of Oliver's family. Tradition also asserts, with great 
probability, that Sir Bernard Fraser possessed estates in Stirlingshire, of 
which district he was the vicecomes or sheriff in 1234. 

Sir Gilbert Fraser is not found in possession of any property in East 
Lothian, but still seems to have had some connection with that district 
during his earlier days, as he witnessed a charter of lands there granted by 
Nesius, son of Nesius. 

In 1233, however, he held the sheriffship of Traquair, and probably about 
the same time, or a little later, was appointed to that of Peebles, and this, 
with the fact of Oliver Castle having been the seat of some of his descendants, 
if the tradition assigning the erection of that castle to Oliver, son of Kylvert, 
be correct, would suggest that he obtained considerable estates in Tweeddale 
from that person. 

The fact of some of Sir Gilbert Fraser's descendants being found in pos- 
session of property in Stirlingshire, and of the sheriffship of that district also, 
favours the idea of a close relationship between him and Sir Bernard Fraser. 

Adam Fraser, who was undoubtedly a son of Udard Fraser, is found 
possessing the lands of Hales, in East Lothian, not as part of his paternal 
inheritance, of which there is no trace, but as succeeding his maternal uncle, 
Oliver, son of Kylvert, in them, which would suggest the failure of all male 
issue of that family ; and his son Lawrence, in addition to Hales, possessed 
the lands of Drumelzier, in Tweeddale, which may have been obtained from 
the same source. 

Laurence Fraser also succeeded to Milnhalech and the other lands in North 
Hales, which had belonged hereditarily to Sir Bernard Fraser, and this 
evinces a near connection between his father, Adam Fraser, and Sir Bernard. 

The circumstances thus presented in one body seem to justify the deduc- 
tion that Kylvert was a powerful personage of Scoto- Saxon or Scoto-Danish 
race, who held large possessions in Tweeddale, embracing perhaps nearly the 
whole of that district, and that either he or his son Oliver acquired the estate 
of Hales, in East Lothian ; that Udard Fraser married one of his daughters, 
and with her obtained, as her marriage portion, Milnhalech and other lands in 
North Hales, and that Bernard, Gilbert, and Adam were sons of this marriage. 


That Bernard Fraser, the eldest son, succeeded his father, in some parts 
of Forton, Linton, and his other possessions in Athelstaneford and Linton, 
obtained others from the de Londres family, and acquired his hereditary right 
to Milnhalech and other lands in North Hales through his mother, by which 
right he forced Maria de Hales to restore them to him. 

That Oliver, the last of Kylvert's family, his brother Adam, the son of 
Kylvert, and his sister Maria de Hales, having no children, at his death 
divided the large property which he had inherited from his father, or had 
himself acquired, between his two younger nephews, bequeathing to Gilbert 
Fraser extensive estates, with Oliver Castle, in Tweeddale, and to Adam 
Fraser, Drumelzier, in that district, and Hales, in East Lothian, except those 
parts of the latter that belonged to Bernard Fraser. 

From the Sheriffship of Stirling having passed for a time into other 
families, until restored to the Fraser name in the person of a descendant of 
Sir Gilbert, from the great probability that estates in Stirlingshire found in 
the possession of Sir Gilbert's grandson, Sir Pdchard Fraser, had belonged to 
Sir Bernard, and from the acquisition of Sir Bernard's property in North 
Hales by Adam Eraser's son, Sir Lawrence Fraser, it appears impossible to 
doubt that Sir Bernard Fraser left no issue, and that the bulk of his posses- 
sions descended to Sir Gilbert Fraser and Adam Fraser, or their heirs. 

Such is the conclusion to which a careful examination of the charters 
and documents bearing upon the subject has led the compiler of this history. 
Upon such meagre evidence it is impossible to arrive at certainty, or to assert 
positively that events thus happened ; but there is nothing upon record 
adverse to that conclusion, and the evident close connection between the 
three, together with the circumstances in which they and the descendants of 
two of them appear, can scarcely be accounted for in any other manner. 

The separation of the Frasers into different branches during the next 
generation is very apparent, of which the three principal may be distinguished 
from each other, as that of Touch-fraser, near Stirling, descended from Sir 
Gilbert Fraser through his son John ; that of Oliver Castle, in Tweeddale, 
also descended from him through his son Simon ; and that of Drumelzier, in 
the same district, descended from Adam Fraser. 

It is very difficult, if not impossible, to decide whether the Touch-fraser 


family or that of Oliver Castle, represented the main stem of the race. The 
succession of Sir Gilbert Fraser's son Simon to the sheriffships held by his 
father, and the fact of his son, also a Simon, having been the only layman of 
the name that attended the Parliament at Scone in 1283-84, and the still 
more numerous and important Parliament at Briggham in 1289-90, point to 
the Oliver Castle family having been the most powerful in their day ; but, at 
the same time, the members of the Touch-fraser family are found in possession 
of extensive and widely-distributed estates, and holding appointments of 
very considerable trust and importance, and there can be no doubt that its 
representative was the head of the whole race during the reign of Pi,obert I. 
The succession of Sir Gilbert's son Simon to the sheriffships may also be 
accounted for by his having obtained the estates with Oliver Castle, in 
Tweeddale, and by the son of his brother John, who afterwards possessed 
those in Stirlingshire, having been a young man at Sir Gilbert's death. 

The Oliver Castle family, and that of Drumelzier, which seems never to 
have risen to the same status as the other two, both failed in heirs-female in 
the course of a few generations, without leaving any male cadets whose 
posterity can be traced ; and the line of Touch-fraser was that from which 
the family whose history is related in this work, and most, if not all, of the 
name existing at the present day are descended. It has therefore been 
thought advisable to follow the succession of this latter in the text, and to 
give some account of the two former in the Appendix, where will also be 
found a memoir of the son of Sir Gilbert Praser that rose to the greatest 
eminence, but who, as an ecclesiastic, could leave no legitimate posterity. 

In the Appendix are also inserted some notices of other early members 
of the race, respecting whom nothing but their names, or isolated facts, are 
known, together with such accounts of the families descended at later periods 
from cadets of the line followed in the text, as may serve to show their 





rpHE name of John Fraser appears here and there in the mythical histories 
of the race constructed by genealogists. According to some writers, a 
John Fraser acquired Oliver Castle and a magnificent estate, during the 
reign of Malcolm Canmore, by marriage with a lady called Eupham Sloan, 
heiress of Tweeddale, while by others a John Fraser is styled Sheriff of 
Tweeddale and Laird of Oliver Castle, in 1214, and two very circumstantial 
lines of descent are brought down from these individuals ; but as they do not 
agree with each other, and as there is not a tittle of evidence to support 
either, it is scarcely necessary to say that no reliance can be placed upon 
these statements. 

The first notice of any John Fraser, in trustworthy authorities, is that in 
the " Liber Vitse " of Durham, where not only his name appears, but his 
parentage is also recorded — 

" Gilbertus Fraser et Christiana uxor ejus 
Et Johannes filius illorum" 1 

and although no dates are given in that catalogue of pilgrims to the shrine 
of St. Cuthbert, the other names found in that part of the roll, and the hand- 
writing in which their visits are recorded, belong to the first half of the 
thirteenth century. 

1 Liber Vita;, p. 99. 


The next notice of John Fraser that is extant records his marriage with 
Alicia, the daughter of William de Cunigburg, Lord of Stapilgorton, in the 
county of Dumfries, and his having received as her portion the lands of 
" Rig," which his father-in-law held as a feudatory of Eoger Avenel, Lord of 
Eskdale. 1 

This event seems to have occurred, therefore, before the year 1243, when 
Eoger Avenel died ; 2 and as a son of Sir Gilbert Fraser would be of an age 
to marry about that time, there appears no reason to doubt that Alicia de 
Cunigburg's bridegroom was the John Fraser whose name is found in the 
" Liber Vitee " of Durham. 

In the Ordnance Survey recently published, " Eigfoot " is placed about a 
mile to the north, and a little to the westward of Arkelton. Its situation in 
the old manor of Stapilgorton, now a part of the parish of Langholm, suggests 
that it was the property thus acquired by John Fraser ; and the fact of his 
having received an estate near Arkelton is important, as serving to connect 
the next in the series with him. 

No further information respecting this John Fraser can be found. It is 
probable that his life was not a long one, for there is no appearance of his 
name after his father's death, about 1263; and this affords ground for the pre- 
sumption that he predeceased his father, which would account for his not 
being found in possession of the Stirlingshire estates, though, after the death 
of Sir Gilbert Fraser, they are seen to have been held by the same person 
that possessed a small estate near Arkelton, viz., Eichard Fraser, which 
appears to warrant his being considered John Fraser's son, and it is not 
unlikely that John was also the father of another son, Alexander. See 


The period during which Sir Eichard Fraser lived exactly agrees with 
his having been the son of John Fraser, who received the lands of Eig, 
near Arkelton, as the marriage portion of his wife, Alicia de Cunigburg ; 

1 Reg. Hon. de Morton, vol. ii. No. 9. 2 Chron. Melrose, p. 155. 


and his possession of a small estate close to that town, 1 together with his 
having been styled " cousin " by Sir Simon Fraser, Alius, 2 who, as a great- 
grandson of Sir Gilbert, would have been first cousin once removed to any 
son of John Fraser, seems sufficient evidence to support the assumption that 
he was so. 

Sir Eichard Fraser 's name is first found in 1276, when, with the rank of 
" Miles " (Knight), he was a witness to the resignation of the lands of 
Pencaitland, in East Lothian, granted by John de Pencaitland in favour of 
Herbert de Maxwell, to which the seals of Hugh de Berkeley, justiciar 
of Lothian, and Sir Simon Fraser (son of Sir Gilbert Fraser, and Sir Eichard's 
uncle) are said to have been affixed, in addition to that of the grantor of 
the deed, 3 because the seal of the latter was not very ancient or well known. 

He next appears in 1289, when, associated with his first cousin, Sir 
Simon Fraser, pater, Sir John de Lindesay, and several monks and clerks of 
the " rotuli regis," he was one of the " Attornati," or representatives, sent by 
his uncle, "William Fraser, Bishop of St. Andrews, and his co-executors of the 
late King Alexander hi., to attend on their behalf at a Court, held at Carham- 
on-Tweed, on the 3d of February in that year, by order of Edward I., desiring 
Thomas de JSTormanville and Guiscard de Charrun to try the justice of the 
claim of John de Massun, a merchant of Gascony, who alleged that the King 
of Scotland died indebted to him in considerable sums, an allegation disputed 
by the bishop and his co-executors. 4 

The name of Sir Eichard Fraser does not appear among the Barons that 
attended the Parliament at Brigham in 1290; but in the competition for the 
Crown of Scotland that ensued on the death of the young Queen Margaret, he 
sided with Baliol, as did all of his name at that time. 

He swore fealty to Edward I. on the 8th of July 1291, 5 and was appointed 
one of the auditors that were to hear the pleadings of the various competitors, 
and report thereon to that Monarch, to whom the decision upon their claims 
had been referred. In the list of these auditors, of whom there were forty 

1 Palgrave, p. 305. graphed in Book of Carlaverock, by William 

2 Original Document in Record Office, Fraser, vol. ii. p. 406. 

London. 4 Historical Documents of Scotland, vol. i. 

3 Original Resignation printed and litho- p. 73. 6 Ragmau Rolls, p. 13. 


for Baliol and those of his party, forty for Bruce and those who sided with 
him, and twenty-five added hy Edward I., his name is found seven places 
below that of his cousin, Sir Simon Eraser, pater. 1 

In 1292 the auditors made their report, declaring that the competitors 
had terminated their pleadings, and that Edward I. might proceed to give 
judgment, and when that judgment had been given in favour of Baliol towards 
the end of the year, Sir Bichard Fraser was a witness to the two homages 
paid by the newly-made King of Scotland to Edward, as his feudal superior, 
at Norham on the 20th November, and at Newcastle- on-Tyne on the 26th 
December, in one of which documents his name immediately precedes that of 
Sir Andrew Fraser, and in the other those of Sir Andrew and Sir Simon 
Fraser, filius. 2 

He seems at this time to have been in favour with the King of England, 
and on the 1 4th of November 1292 Edward I. granted him the ward or guardian- 
ship of the lands of the late Bichard de Glen, in the county of Peebles, 3 with 
the " maritagium " or power over the marriage of the young heir, who was 
Richard, the son of Duncan de Glen, and probably nephew or grandson of 
the late proprietor, he engaging to pay one hundred merks for this privilege, 
by instalments of twenty-five each, for which "Walter de Huntercombe and 
Allan Penyngtone became his securities. 

In 1293 Sir Bichard Fraser was appointed vicecomes of Berwick by John 
Baliol, and he held that office when one of the early causes of difference 
between the King of Scotland and Edward I. occurred, viz., the demand for 
the surrender of William Thorold, who had fled thither from English juris- 
diction, to which demand he answered that he must consult his sovereign 
on the matter, as he had but recently been appointed to the sheriffship. 4 

Upon the commencement of hostilities the grant of the wardship of 
Bichard de Glen's estates was revoked, as indorsed on one of the copies, 

1 Rymer's Fcedera, vol. ii. pp. 553, 555. no name appears so placed, and the two 

2 In these homages, as printed in Rymer's names in the one homage, the three in the 
Fcedera and Palgrave's Scottish Records, the other, stand together in the order described 
name of "Johan de Strivelyn del Cars" is in the text, without any intervening name. 

found between those of Richard Fraser and 
Andrew Fraser ; but its insertion there is 
erroneous, for in the original documents in 4 Historical Documents of Scotland, vol. i. 

3 Rotuli Scotise, vol. i. p. 11. 

4 Hi! 
the Record Office, examined 12th May 1870, p. 392. 


"quia testatum est quod est nunc inimicus Eegis ;" 1 but Sir Eichard Fraser 
made his submission early in 1296, and on the 3d September bis lands were 
restored to him, the restoration to date from the Friday of the Paschal week, 
Good Friday, on which day, so runs the order, the castle of Berwick was 
surrendered 2 This seems to show that he was taken prisoner on that occasion, 
and subsequently readmitted to the favour of Edward I. ; indeed, Pierre de 
Langtoft says that William de Douglas and Eichard Fraser were made 
prisoners when Berwick was taken. 3 

Sir Eichard Fraser twice swore fealty to Edward I. for his lands in 
Stirlingshire and Dumfriesshire on the 28th of August 1296 at Berwick, 4 but 
he does not appear to have been one of the Barons carried captive into 
England, for on the 24th of May 1297, invitations to serve Edward in his war 
with the King of France were sent to him and others resident in Scotland, 5 and 
on the 28 th of the same month he was accepted as surety for his cousin, Sir 
Simon Fraser, filius, who was released from captivity upon undertaking to 
serve under Edward I. in his war with France, and the obligation to that 
effect was sealed by the two cousins at Brembre, Bamborough Castle, 
in Northumberland. 6 

Sir Eichard does not appear to have served personally in Edward's 
expedition to Flanders, for on the 26th of September in the same year he was 
one of the Scottish Barons summoned to assist Brian Fitzallan, Custos of the 
kingdom, against Wallace and his followers ; 7 but after this no further men- 
tion of him is found until the year 1306, when he probably joined Bruce 
in his first effort for independence, as he certainly shared in the misfortunes 
of the defeated Scottish party, and various requests for his estates were made 
by the rapacious soldiers of England in that year. 

John de Luc asked for the lands of Tulchfraser (Touch-fraser), in the 
county of Stirling, belonging to Eichard Fraser. 8 

Alexander de Baliol made a request for the lands of Eichard Fraser, and 

1 Historical Documents of Scotland, vol. i. 5 Historical Documents of Scotland, vol. ii. 
p. 367. p. 169. 

2 Rotuli Seotise, voL i. p. 26. 6 Original Document in Record Office, 

3 Metrical Chronicle of Pierre de Langtoft, London. 

vol. ii. p. 235. 7 Rotuli Scotia?, vol. i. p. 50. 

* Ragman Polls, p. 162. 8 Palgrave, p. 303. 


John de Bristowe demanded "le petit terre qui feust a Eichard Fraser a 
Arkelton, en la conte - de Dumfries." x 

It is remarkable how completely genealogists have overlooked the position 
in the family held by Sir Eichard Fraser, some ignoring him altogether, 
others only mentioning him in a cursory manner as cousin to Sir Simon 
Fraser, filius, and one, Crauford, suggesting that he belonged to the Makarston 
branch, 2 but none in any way according him the very high rank in the 
family that the account of his career, meagre as the record may be, shows 
him to have held, for he is not only found engaged in affairs of considerable 
public importance, viz., as a representative of the executors of Alexander in. 
in 1289, as an auditor on the part of Baliol at the competition for the crown 
in 1291, and as vicecomes of Berwick- on-Tweed, a very responsible post at that 
time, in 1293, but he appears with the rank of Knight as early as 1276 ; and 
it is evident from the terms of the mandate for the restoration of his estates 
by Edward I. in 1296, which, reciting the order addressed to the Sheriff of 
Stirling, adds that the same Eichard had similar letters to the Sheriffs of 
Berwick, Boxburgk, Dumfries, Peebles, and Edinburgh, that he held posses- 
sions in nearly, if not quite, every district in Scotland into which the Frasers 
had then penetrated ; and it may here be noticed that he is the only person 
of the name found in possession of lands in England as well as in Scotland, 
for he appears as proprietor of Eddirstone, in Northumberland, 3 although he 
probably held that estate as a sub-feudatory of the Scottish King. 

In the orders issued by Edward I. for the restoration of their lands to 
Scotchmen, where these were held from a subject-superior, that fact is very 
generally mentioned in the order ; and it may therefore be inferred, from the 
absence of any such notice in regard to Sir Eichard Fraser's lands, that he 
was a tenant-in-chief of the Crown. 

Some of his possessions he may have acquired by marriage, but there is 
no trace to be met with of the name or family of his wife, or even of her 

It has already been observed that it is open to doubt whether the 
representative of the Touch-fraser family, or that of the Oliver Castle family, 

1 Palgrave, pp. 304, 305. 3 Historical Documents of Scotland, vol. ii. 

2 Remarks on the Ragman Rolls, p. 12. pp. 4G, 49. 


was the head of the whole race ; but it is apparent from the above that Sir 
Richard, whose existence has been almost ignored by genealogists, occupied 
a very high position in the race, and was one of the most influential members 
of it, and that he obtained as his principal inheritance those estates in 
Stirlingshire which may, with good reason, be supposed to have belonged to 
Sir Bernard Fraser, and from him to have passed to Sir Gilbert Fraser. 

The question of seniority between these two branches is, however, of little 
importance, for the Oliver Castle family failed in the male line in 1306. But 
two facts may here be stated that seem to lead to the inference that although 
the eminent abilities of the three Sir Simons raised them high in the service 
of the State, and gave precedence to the names of the two first over those of 
other laymen of the race contemporary with them, yet the Touch-fraser family 
was the elder line, and John, from whom it descended, the eldest son of Sir 
Gilbert Fraser. In the first place, John is the one of whom earliest mention 
is found; and secondly, when the Oliver Castle family failed in the male line 
in 1306, no alteration was made in the armorial bearings of the various 
remaining branches of the race, such as will be seen to have taken place at 
the failure of the eldest male line of the Touch-fraser family about the 
middle of the same century. 

It is also worthy of notice that the field of the armorial bearings of the 
Oliver Castle branch was sable instead of azure. 1 Nisbet, in his Heraldry, 
says that a change in the tincture of the field is a mark of cadency ; but it is 
now impossible to determine which was the original bearing. 

There is no record of Sir Bichard Fraser's death, but he survived the year 
1306, fatal to so many of the best and bravest of the Scottish nobility, for a 
petition addressed by him to Edward I. in the spring of the succeeding year 
is extant. 2 It sets forth that he had enjoyed the guardianship of Bichard de 
Glen, the son of Duncan de Glen, for only three years after it was granted to 
him, and that he was deprived of it at the time of the first war in Scotland, 
that others had held it since then, and that he had obtained no advantage or 
profit from it ; and therefore prayed that an inquiry might be instituted, and 
that he should only be responsible for what he had received during the three 
years, and also — which seems the gist of the petition — that the debt of 100 
1 See Appendix, Sir Simon Fraser, filius. 2 Placita in Pari., vol. i. p. 211. 


merks, due from him to Edward i. for the grant, should be reduced within 
proportionate limits, if, indeed, the King would demand any portion of it from 
him. To this petition the stern reply was made, that he had been " inimicus 
regis," a rebel, after the guardianship was granted to him, and was so at that 
present time ; that his petition was refused ; that the debt must be paid in 
full ; and that an order should be issued to seize his goods, cattle, lands, and 
tenements for it, which order was accordingly sent to John de Landels, the 
English King's Chamberlain of Scotland, on the 1st of April 1307. 

Sir Eichard Fraser's possessions were all situated within those districts 
of the kingdom at that time completely under the domination of England, 
and, therefore, unless he became a fugitive, he had no choice but to submit to 
whatever oppression might fall to his lot, fortunate if his life were spared, 
until the reconquest of the country by Bruce enabled him to end his days in 
peace ; and as his successor in Touch-fraser, Sir Alexander Fraser, did not 
receive his charter of that property until about 1321, he may have been alive 
nearly down to that date, though, if this were the case, he was incapacitated 
by some cause, probably age and infirmity, for he would have been nearly 
seventy years old, from joining King Eobert in 1307, when that Alexander 
appears as leader of the Frasers. 

Two impressions of Sir Eichard Fraser's seals have been preserved, the 
earlier one before the dignity of knighthood had been conferred upon him. 
Both bear on a triangular shield six rosettes or cinquefoils, disposed 3.2.1, 
and the inscription round the first is S. Eicardi Freser; that around the 
second, which is attached to the obligation of his cousin, Sir Simon, filius, 
is S. Eicardi Fraser M., showing the surname in those two different forms. 

Although there is no positive evidence of the fact, yet there is good reason 
to believe that he had a son, named Andrew. 

Richard Fraser, ante 1276. Sir Richard Fraser, 1297. 



Immediately following the name of Sir Richard Fraser, upon two im- 
portant occasions, appears that of Sir Andrew Fraser. It is impossible to 
doubt that he was very closely connected with Sir Richard, for his son 
Alexander was Sir Richard's successor in the estate of Touch- fraser, but, 
unfortunately, no distinct record of the nature of that connection has been 

The constant warfare, which, commencing in 1296, lasted for many years, 
and the numerous executions by order of Edward I. in 1306, cut off many of 
the younger scions of Scottish families almost contemporaneously with the 
decease of their relatives of the two preceding generations ; and where two 
individuals of a family bore the same Christian name, this has been very 
apt to mislead genealogists into confounding them together, and considering 
them one and the same person. In this manner appears to have originated 
the mistake into which it is believed that Mr. Anderson has fallen, 1 
of regarding; this Sir Andrew Fraser as identical with a Sir Andrew Fraser, 
son of Sir Gilbert, and brother of John Fraser, Sir Simon Fraser, Sheriff of 
Traquair and Peebles, and William Fraser, Bishop of St. Andrews, and 
therefore uncle to Sir Richard Fraser, of which a little reflection will show 
the improbability, and, indeed, it might almost be said the impossibility. 

It is not probable that the name of Sir Richard should precede that of 
his uncle Andrew whenever they occur together, but a still stronger argu- 
ment is drawn from the positions in which this Sir Andrew Fraser 
is found. He was the father of a young family in 1296; — that his children 
were then young is shown by the dates at which his sons subsequently 
married, viz., — Alexander, in 1316 ; Simon, not mentioned as a married man 
until 1329, though he probably was so a few years earlier; and James, in 
1322. This by itself, though important, woidd not be conclusive, for an 
aged man might have had a young family ; but this Sir Andrew will be found 
to have been ordered by Edward I. to reside south of the Trent in 1296, and 
to have been vigorous enough to accompany that monarch to Flanders during 

1 History of the Family of Fraser, page 30. 


his war with the King of France in 1297, a service not required from Sir 
Eichard Fraser, but also performed by Sir Simon Fraser, filius, one of the 
next generation to that to which Sir Eichard belonged. 

John Fraser probably died at a comparatively early age ; but Sir Simon, 
the Sheriff of Traquair and Peebles, died between 1280 and 1283, and the 
Bishop of St. Andrews ended his life in 1297 — both advanced in years ; and 
it seems an improbability, amounting to impossibility, that their brother, 
Sir Andrew, should appear, in 1296 and 1297, in positions that would natur- 
ally be occupied only by a young man in the full vigour of life, or that 
Edward I. should have required his services as the price of his freedom, or, 
indeed, should have thought it worth while to send an aged worn-out man a 
prisoner into England, south of the Trent, when he did not consider it neces- 
sary to treat Sir Eichard Fraser, one of the next generation, and a most 
important member of the race, in a similar manner. 

The above considerations have caused the writer of this history to enter- 
tain the opinion that this Sir Andrew Fraser was not the son of Sir Gilbert 
who bore that name, but a far younger person, and the reasons for deeming 
him to have been Sir Eichard Fraser's son must now be advanced. 

These are, in the first place, the very near connection between them, 
evinced by the succession of Sir Andrew's eldest son to Sir Eichard's principal 
estate of Touch-fraser and other lands in Stirlingshire. 

In the second place, the sequence of Sir Andrew's name to that of Sir 
Eichard, whenever the two occur together. 

In addition to these facts it may be observed that it is evident that Sir 
Andrew Fraser was a person of considerable consequence, for he was an 
auditor on the part of Baliol in 1291-2, he was Sheriff of Stirling in 1293, 
and Edward I. sent him and his whole family to reside south of the Trent in 
1296; and yet it does not appear that he was in possession of any great 
estate at that time, for he is only found as a tenant or vassal of the Bishop 
of St. Andrews, and of Elye de Kininmunth, and Adam de Valoines, in the 
county of Fife, and he received his wife's dower lands for his support and 
that of his family during his captivity, though from the lands of Dripp, in 
Stirlingshire, having been in possession of his son Alexander before Sir 
Eichard's death, they had probably belonged to him. 


The consequence which he enjoyed, though, perhaps, partly due to his 
personal character, may, therefore, hav§ arisen in a great degree from his 
position in the family rather than from his actual territorial power at the 
time ; and this may not only explain his being found in offices of responsi- 
bility, but may afford a reason for Edward I. having carried him and his 
family into England, as even more valuable hostages than Sir Eichard 

The position of son to Sir Eichard has therefore been accorded to this 
Sir Andrew Fraser in these pages upon the foregoing grounds, and whatever 
credit that conclusion may be held to deserve, at all events the succession to 
Touch-fraser shows that his eldest son Alexander was Sir Eichard's nearest 
relation and heir at the date of the decease of the latter. 

The first notice of Sir Andrew Eraser occurs at the competition for the 
Crown of Scotland, when, upon the 17th July 1291, he swore fealty to 
Edward I., 1 and about the same time was appointed one of the auditors on the 
part of Baliol; and, with the other auditors, in 1292, he sealed the letters 
testimonial, announcing the conclusion of the pleadings for the several 
competitors. 2 

Towards the end of the same year, on the 20th November at Norham, 
and on the 26th of December at Newcastle-on-Tyne, he witnessed the 
homages of Baliol to Edward I. ; and in the record of these his name imme- 
diately follows that of Sir Eichard Fraser, and precedes that of Sir Simon 
Fraser, filius, in the homage also witnessed by the latter. 3 

He appears as vicecomes of Stirling in 1293, 4 and was the first of the 
name that held that office after the decease of Sir Bernard Fraser about the 
year 1249, but it will be seen to have become hereditary in his descendants 
down to the year 1407. 

In 1293 Macduff, the brother of Colban, a former Earl of Fife, was 
sentenced in the Court of King John Baliol to the forfeiture of his estates 
of Eareys and Crey in that Earldom (of which transaction an account will be 
found in the Appendix) ; and Sir Andrew Fraser, probably by order of the 
King or the Bishop of St. Andrews, led an armed force against the house of 

1 Ragman Pvolls, p. 15. 3 Original Documents in Record Office, London. 

2 Rymer's Ecedera, vol. ii. p. 555. 4 Cart. Newbottle, No. 175. 


Eareys, and plundered it and the adjacent lands of arms, jewels, cattle, and 
other property to the value of two hundred merks (a large sum in those 
days), according to a statement in one of the mandates addressed to Baliol 
on that occasion by Edward I., to whom Macduff had appealed. 1 

On the 21st of November 1295 King John Baliol granted a charter to 
William de Silkyfwrth of some lands in the tenement of Colbanston ; the 
charter was dated at Stirling, and the witnesses to it were "William, Earl of 
Eoss, Andrew Fraser, David de Beton, and Gilbert de Haia, Knights. 2 

Sir Andrew Fraser supported Baliol in his ineffectual resistance against 
the power of the King of England in 1296, and after the overthrow of that 
feeble prince by Edward, submitted to the victor like the other barons of 
Scotland, and swore fealty to him twice, on the 28th of August at Berwick- 
on-Tweed, as Andreas Fraser del conte" de Fyf, tenant l'evesque St. Andreu, 8 
and as Andreas Fraser del conte" de Fyf, and on the 3d of September some 
lands in that district, which he held as vassal of Elye de Kininmunth and of 
Adam de Valoines, were restored to him by the King's order. 4 

He was one of those carried captive into England in that year by order 
of Edward I., and on the 1st of October two mandates were issued by the 
King in favour of Andrew Fraser, 5 then residing " ultra," from Morpeth, in 
Northumberland, where the orders were dated, south of Trent, the first being 
for a pension of one hundred merks yearly, for the support of himself, his 
wife, and family, from his wife's dower lands in Catania, the district of 
Sutherland and Caithness, to be supplemented to that extent by John de 
Warrenne, Earl of Surrey and Governor of Scotland, to whom the orders are 
addressed, if the lands did not yield so much ; and the second a grant of the 
lands themselves to the value of one hundred merks yearly, to be in like 
manner supplemented if they did not yield that amount. 

Upon the ground of these mandates from Edward I., Mr. Anderson 6 has 
founded an erroneous theory of large possessions in that northern part of 
Scotland, held by Sir Andrew Fraser in right of his wife, and descending to 
Simon Fraser, whom he styles Sir Andrew's eldest son (relegating Alexander 

1 Botuli Seotiaa, vol. i. p. 1 0. 4 Eotuli Scotia?, vol. i. p. 27. 

2 Cart. Coldingliame, Ixxviii. 5 Ibid. vol. i. p. 35. 

3 Ragman Eolla, pp. 147, 157. c History of the Family of Fraser, pp. 35, 36. 


to the position of second son), and from him passing to another Simon, and 
thence to one whom he calls the brother of this last Simon, Hugh, the 
progenitor of the Frasers of Lovat ; but for these statements he adduces no 
better authority than the apocryphal "Annals of the Frasers," published in 
1 795 ; and the first of them, viz., that Simon was Sir Andrew's eldest son, will 
be found completely refuted in the succeeding account of Alexander Fraser, 
and also in the Appendix, in the account of that Simon Fraser ; but although 
there is no record in these mandates, or elsewhere, of the name or family of 
the lady who was Sir Andrew's wife, and had dower lands in Catania, 
a fragment of information still extant, of which Mr. Anderson seems to 
have been ignorant, affords some clue by which her family can be traced 
with at all events greater probability than belongs to the theory advanced 
by him. 

This fragment of information is in the shape of a charter from David n., 
dated October 18th, 1363, 1 which recites royal letters granted by Piobert i. 
on the 6th of November 1312, declaring that nothing in the agreements 
ordered or arranged by the king between Lady Mary, widow of the late 
Sir Eeginald le Chen, and Alexander Fraser, concerning the lands of Duffus, 
should prejudice the status of inheritance of Lady Mary in those lands, 
or in any way be construed into her disinheritance of them. And the 
charter from David n. confirms the above royal letters in favour of Lady 
Mary's heirs, giving them the same force and validity as they had during 
his father's reign. 

It is evident that Alexander Fraser, who was Sir Andrew Fraser's son, 
had claims upon the property of the le Chen family in 1312 that were so far 
legal and just as to be recognised by King Eobert, and made the subject of 
agreement by his order ; and the necessity of the royal letters to protect the 
hereditary rights of Lady Mary, npon that agreement being made, implies 
that those claims were also of an hereditary nature. 

Freskin de Moravia, dominus de Duffus, who flourished during the first 
half of the thirteenth century, married Johanna, Lady of Strathnaver, in 
Catania, 2 and, dying before 1269, left issue two coheiresses, Mary, married 

1 Spalding Club, Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. p. 611. 

2 Cart. Moray., preface, p. xxxiii. 


to Sir Eeginald le Chen, junior, 1 and Christian, the wife of William de 
Fedreth, between whom his estates were divided ; 2 but as Sir Eeginald 
is styled dominus de Duffus in 1269, while William de Fedreth appears as 
" portionarius" of that estate in 1286, it is probable that Mary was the elder 
sister, both being also heirs- portioners of other properties in various parts of 
the kingdom, including Strathnaver, in Catania ; but Sir Eeginald, by pur- 
chase from, or agreement with William de Fedreth and his wife, obtained 
their portion of Strathnaver in 1286. 3 

It was this Mary, Lady of Duffus, who in her widowhood made the 
agreement, by order of Eobert I., with Alexander Fraser. She was the wife 
of Sir Eeginald le Chen before 1269, and a daughter of theirs might have 
been of an age to become the wife of Sir Andrew Fraser between 1280 and 
1290, and might have received dower lands in Catania ; and if, during the 
disturbances of that stormy period, the part of Lady Mary's estates where 
those dower lands were situated had been lost, or alienated by her, Alexander 
Fraser might have just claims upon her other possessions, in lieu of the 
inheritance to which he had right through his mother, but which it was no 
longer in Lady Mary's power to grant him ; and, so far as can be ascertained, 
there is no other reason to be found for any such pretensions on the part of 
Sir Andrew's son. 

This view of the case may also suggest a cause for the confirmation of 
the royal letters by David n. in 1363, for the Sir Eeginald le Chen, then Lord 
of Duffus, probably Lady Mary's grandson, was the last male of that line, and 
his possessions were divided among his daughters, who were married about 
that time, when it is possible some revival of the claims may have been tried 
by Alexander Fraser's heiress Margaret, and her husband, Sir William de 
Keith, the MarischaL 

It has been necessary to anticipate the course of events, in order to show 

1 Crauford, Officers of State, p. 264, makes de Colville. She was not the mother of 
the mistake of saying that Sir Reginald le Sir Reginald the junior, but the second or 
Chen, senior, married Mary, Lady of Duffus, perhaps third wife of his father. 

and that Sir Reginald, junior married 2 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. p. 

Eustachia de Colville; but the charters re- 

ferred to here prove his error : it was Sir 

Reginald the senior that married Eustachia 3 Ibid. p. 602. 


the probability that Sir Andrew Fraser's wife, who had dower lands in 
Catania, was a lady of the family of le Chen. 

Sir Andrew continued his enforced residence to the south of the Trent 
until the middle of the succeeding year, 1297, when, upon the 23d of June, 
he entered into an obligation or engagement to attend Edward I. abroad, and 
serve under him in the war with the King of France, 1 and he was thereupon 
permitted to proceed to Scotland in order to make preparations for that 
expedition ; 2 and he seems to have enjoyed the favour of the King of England, 
for on the 25th of the same month he received from him a grant of the 
estate of Ugtrethrestrother — Struthers — in Fife, taken from Macduff, who is 
stated in the document to be then in rebellion. 3 

There can be no doubt that Sir Andrew Fraser performed his engagement 
to serve Edward I. in his foreign war ; the mistake into which Abercromby 
and other authors have fallen in supposing that the barons of Scotland 
abandoned the engagements that were the price of their freedom, or deserted 
the standard of England in face of the enemy, is shown in the Appendix, in 
the account of Sir Simon Fraser, films ; but Sir Andrew evidently left valu- 
able hostages behind him in the persons of his wife and children, and an 
additional proof of his fidelity to his engagement is found in the fact of his 
son being in possession of Ugtrethrestrother in 1306, for those lands would 
certainly have been at once resumed by the English monarch if he had 
broken faith. 

It is, however, rather remarkable that Edward I. should have bestowed a 
portion of Macduffs lands upon the very person whose conduct, in plunder- 
ing Macduff's house of Rareys, he had so severely reprobated about three 
years before. 

After 1297 Sir Andrew Fraser does not appear in any record as alive, 
and it is possible that he was killed or died while abroad in Flanders ; he 
certainly was dead before the year 1306, when Thomas de Grey petitioned 
Edward I. for the lands of Alexander Fraser, " qui fut le filz de Andrew 
Fraser," 4 and a second request by de Grey shows that these lands were those 
of Ugtrethrestrother ; and although the expression above quoted would appear 

1 Original Document in Record Office, London. 3 Rotuli Scotia, vol. i. p. 42. 

3 Historical Documents of Scotland, vol. ii. p. 185. 4 Palgrave, pp. 303, 314. 


more applicable to a deceased Alexander, yet its bearing the meaning here 
ascribed to it is proved by the facts that an Alexander, son of the late Sir 
Andrew Fraser, was living in 1312, and that the granddaughter and heiress 
of that Alexander possessed the estate of Ugtrethrestrother in 1392. 

His decease before the year 1307, when Sir Eichard was alive, proves 
that Sir Andrew never succeeded to the estate of Touch-fraser, and therefore 
he cannot have been the Sir Andrew Fraser of Touch mentioned by Crauford 
in his remarks on the Eagman Eolls attached to Nisbet's Heraldry, 1 and by 
other writers ; but in the Appendix the possibility of this individual having 
been his son of the same name is shown, though if this latter held any 
property bearing the not uncommon prefix of Touch, it was not Touch-fraser, 
which was inherited by his elder brother, Alexander. 

The seal of Sir Andrew Fraser has been preserved ; it is attached to his 
obligation to serve Edward I. in his war with the King of France, which is 

Sir Andrew Fraser, 1297. 

one of similar documents still in existence at the Eecord Office in London. 
It bears on a triangular shield six rosettes or cinquefoils, disposed 3.2.1, and 
the inscription around the seal is S. Andree Fraser, Militis. 
He left issue, four sons — 

Alexander, the successor of Sir Eichard Fraser. 
Simon, see Appendix. 
Andrew, see Appendix. 
James, see Appendix. 

1 " Remarks ou Ragman Rolls," p. 13. 





Nearly every genealogist that has touched upon the subject has fallen 
into error respecting the parentage of this distinguished member of the race, 
and that error has been universally adopted by other authors. They have 
placed him in the Oliver Castle branch, and have called him the younger son 
of Sir Simon Eraser, pater, and younger brother of Sir Simon Fraser, filius, 
executed in 1306 by order of Edward i. The principal causes of this mistake 
on their part were the high positions in which the two Sir Simons are found, 
the brilliant career and tragical death of the younger, and the eminence to 
which Sir Alexander attained; together with their oversight of the separate 
line of Touch-fraser, and their having been unaware of the fact that, during 
the period assigned by them for Sir Alexander's career, there were three 
persons of the race in existence, bearing that Christian name, who will be 
noticed in the present work. 

1st. Sir Alexander Fraser, a knight in 1268, who died in or before 1295. 1 
2d. Sir Alexander Fraser, who was baron and knight in 1296. 2 
3d. This Sir Alexander Fraser, who certainly was not a knight before 
1309, and probably not until after 1312, who certainly was brother-in-law to 
Robert I., and to whom a Sir Simon Fraser, 3 killed at Halidon, was brother. 

The earlier genealogists appear to have confounded the above three 
together, and one author, Abercromby, has added a mistake peculiarly his 
own, for he says, " In the reign of Robert I. there were two eminent gentle- 
men, the one designed Sir Alexander Fraser of Touch, the other Sir Alexander 
Fraser of Cowie." 

Mr. Anderson, in his " History of the Family of Fraser," 4 has avoided the 
above-mentioned error, and is correct in saying that his father was a Sir Andrew 
Fraser, though mistaken as to the identity of that Sir Andrew ; but without 
giving any authority for his assertion, he goes on to state that Alexander 
was a second son, and that his brother Simon was the elder, and their 

1 See Appendix, Frasers of Drumelzier. 3 See Appendix, Frasers of Lovat. 

2 See Appendix, Frasers of Cornetoun. 4 History of the Family of Fraser, pp. 33-37. 



father's heir, and also heir to extensive estates belonging to their mother 
in Catania (Caithness). 

In the notice of that brother, Simon Fraser, it will be seen that his name 
appears, in company with that of Alexander Fraser, in a manner applicable 
only to the younger of the two ; but, independently of that refutation of Mr. 
Anderson's mis-statement regarding their respective seniority, it has already 
been shown, in the immediately preceding account of their father, Sir Andrew 
Fraser, that the settlement in 1312 between Alexander Fraser and Lady 
Mary of Duffus in all probability had reference to his mother's lands in 
Caithness ; and a very complete chain of evidence, of which the links are 
estabbshed on documentary authority in the course of the succeeding pages, 
and of which a short summary is given below, effectually proves that Alexander 
Fraser, the son of Sir Andrew Fraser, was heir to him and to Sir Eichard 
Fraser, and therefore his eldest son, and that he was consequently not more 
nearly related than cousin to either Sir Simon, pater, or Sir Simon, filius; 
that there were not two gentlemen of the name, one of Touch, the other of 
Cowie, during the reign of Eobert I., but that the same individual possessed 
both those estates, with many others, and that he was brother-in-law to the 

This chain of evidence is composed of — 

1st. The descent of the Sheriffship of Stirling from Sir Andrew Fraser, 
1293, through Sir Alexander Fraser, 1328, to Margaret Fraser, 
granddaughter and heiress of the latter, 1407. 
2c?. The descent of the lands of Ugtrethrestrother from Sir Andrew 
Fraser, 1297, through Sir Alexander Fraser, 1306, to the same 
Margaret Fraser, 1392. 
3c?. The descent of the estates of Touch-fraser from Sir Eichard Fraser, 
1306, through Sir Alexander Fraser, 1321 ; and of Drippis, or Dripp, 
from Alexander Fraser, 1306, to the same Margaret Fraser, 1407. 
tth. The assedation of the lands of Torry by Bernard, Abbot of Arbroath, 
to Alexander Fraser, the son of the late Sir Andrew Fraser, 
5th. The mention of Mary, the King's sister, as wife of Sir Alexander 
Fraser, in the charter of a tenement in Auchincarnie, 1324 ; and 


that of Sir Alexander Eraser's son, John, the father of Margaret 

Fraser, as the King's nephew, in the charter of the forest of Cowie, 


6th. The descent of the forest and thanage of Cowie, granted by Eobert I. 

to Sir Alexander Fraser, 1327 ; the forest to the same Margaret 

Fraser, 1359; the thanage to his second son, "William Fraser, 


Although it somewhat anticipates the narrative of events, it may be here 

observed, as accounting in some degree for Abercromby's mistake, that owing 

to Margaret Fraser having carried the bulk of her grandfather's possessions, 

and among them Touch-fraser, into another family, future writers styled Sir 

Alexander Fraser " Thane of Cowie," as if that had been his principal and 

hereditary estate, and they, perhaps, were misled by its having been the only 

part of his vast property that continued in the Fraser name to the third 

generation after him ; but it is not probable that he was ever so designated 

during his life, for Cowie did not come into his possession by inheritance, and 

was the last, and by no means the largest, grant that he received from the 

bounty of his friend and sovereign. 

When Sir Andrew Fraser was carried prisoner into England by Edward I. 
in 1296, and obliged to reside south of the river Trent, he appears to have 
taken his wife and children with him; 1 and as that monarch, after his usurpa- 
tion of the Crown of Scotland upon the compiilsory abdication of John Baliol, 
required the young Scottish nobility to attend the English Court, it is possible 
that Alexander Fraser, like the young Eobert Bruce, and others, passed a 
considerable portion of his earlier years in that then unrivalled school for 
warriors, and there contracted that friendship with his future king, some ten 
or twelve years his senior, to which Barbour will be seen to allude, and that 
this friendship was a prominent cause of the change in the political views 
of the Fraser race, which had previously adhered to the party of Baliol. 

In Barbour's historical poem " The Bruce," a Sir Alexander Fraser is said 

to have been taken prisoner at the disastrous battle of Methven in 1306, 2 in 

which Sir Aymer de Valence, Earl of Bembroke, defeated the recently-crowned 

Eobert I. ; but it is very doubtful whether it was this Alexander Fraser, or 

1 Rotuli Scotise, vol. i. p. 35. 2 Spalding Club Edition, The Bruce, p. 40. 


the Sir Alexander Fraser mentioned above who appears in 1296, that 
sustained the misfortune of being captured on that occasion. If it were this 
Alexander Eraser, Barbour is mistaken in styling him " Sir," for he was not 
then a Knight, and he must have found means to escape from captivity, for 
his name does not appear among those who, like Thomas Eandolph, the 
future renowned Earl of Moray, were pardoned, and returned for a time to 
the service of the King of England ; but if it were the Sir Alexander Fraser 
of 1296, it is probable that he was one of those who perished by the hand 
of the executioner, for his name does not again appear in any document, 
except the demand for his lands by John de Luc. 

Alexander Fraser, the subject of this Memoir, had, however, also em- 
braced the cause of Bruce, for his estates were seized and partitioned among 
some of the followers of Edward I. 

Thomas de Grey asked for the lands of Alexander Fraser, the son of 
Andrew Fraser, and a second application by the same Thomas shows that 
these lands were those of Ugtrethrestrother. 1 

William de Montfitchet demanded the lands of Dripp, in Stirlingshire, 
belonging to Alexander Fraser. 2 

John de Weston asked for lands in the county of Edinburgh, the property 
of Alexander Fraser, and John de Lisle for some in Fife, remaining from 
those already granted to Walter Gilbert. 3 

In the winter of 1306 Bruce, after many wanderings and adventures in 
the mountains during the autumn, had temporarily abandoned Scotland, and 
sought an asylum in the little island of Bachrin, on the Irish coast, where he 
passed the winter ; but on the return of spring he once more appeared in 
arms, and crossing to the island of Arran, and thence to Carrick, spent the 
summer and autumn of 1307 in gallant and desperate exploits in the south- 
west of Scotland, including his victory of Loudoun Hill over his former con- 

1 Palgrave, pp. 304, 313. county of Edinburgh demanded by John de 

2 Ibid. pp. 303, 305. Weston, and those in Fife granted to Walter 

3 Ibid. pp. 314, 317. Ugtrethrestrother Gilbert, and asked for by John de Lisle, were 
and Dripp were certainly this Alexander his, or belonged to the elder person of the 
Fraser's possessions, the former, and perhaps same name noticed above, who, in all pro- 
the latter, had belonged to his father, and bability, possessed the estate of Cornetoun, 
both descended to his granddaughter ; but asked for by John de Luc. 

it is uncertain whether the lands in the 


queror, the Earl of Pembroke, which enabled him, after the death of Edward I. 
and the retreat of his feeble successor from the Border, to turn his attention 
to the northern portion of the country. 

From some cause or another, Alexander Eraser appears to have been pre- 
vented from joining Bruce during the winter of 1306 and the spring and 
summer of 1307, which rather supports the suggestion of his having been 
made prisoner at Methven ; but however this may be, in the autumn of the 
latter year he and his brother Simon are found preserving their fidelity to 
King Kobert, and Barbour expressly says that, in resolving to march north- 
ward, he calculated in some degree on the aid he should obtain from them. 

" And he thocht wele that he would far 
Out our the Month with his menyhe, 
To luk quha that his frend wald be. 
Into Schir Alexander the Fraser 
He trastit, for tha frendis war, 
And in his brother Symon, tha twa, 
He had mistere wele of ma." 1 

In some editions of Barbour's poem the word "cosyngis" is printed 
instead of " frendis " in the passage just quoted, and, misled by this, Crawford 
and other writers have stated that consanguinity existed between Bobert I. 
and this Alexander Fraser ; but they were certainly mistaken, for although 
the children of each became cousins (probably the origin of the error), no 
blood-relationship of any sort can be traced between themselves, and in no 
one of the numerous charters and other documents of that reign, where his 
name appears, is Alexander Fraser ever once designated " consanguineus," or 
cousin, to the King, as, in accordance with the custom of the age, would 
assuredly have been the case in many, if not all, had such relationship existed 
between them. For this reason, the reading of the Cambridge copy of 
Barbour, as printed by the Spalding Club, has been adopted ; but the talented 
editor of that edition, the late Mr. Cosmo Innes, has also been misled, for he 
says, at page 496, in his notes of various readings, " Frendis, so in Cantab, 
meaning perhaps ' relations,' as the word in Scotland still means ; " but it is 

1 The Bruce, p. 1S7. 


very evident, from its use in the passage quoted above, that Barbour did not 
employ the word " frend " in that sense. 

It may also be noticed here that Barbour in his poem mentions the name 
of Alexander Fraser four times, all prior to the year 1309, and that on three 
of these occasions, in the extant editions of the poem, the title " Sir " is pre- 
fixed to the name, 1 although the Alexander Fraser of whom this is the 
account was not made a Knight until after 1312 ; but it is remarkable that, 
with the exception of the first of these lines, 

" And Schir Alexander Fraser," 2 

which, as already noticed, may have applied to the elder person of the 
name, they appear by the use of that appellation to be rendered too long for 
Barbour's eight-syllable metre, and that if the title " Sir" is left out, together 
with the definite article " the " before the surname, the lines return to the 
eight-syllable metre, which raises a presumption that the insertion of these 
words may have been the work of some transcriber, misled by the title having 
been given on the first occasion of the name being mentioned in the poem, 
and, therefore, applying it in the subsequent instances. 
The lines are these — 

" Into Schir Alexander the Fraser," 
" Schir Alexander the Fraser wicht," s 

which, under the above-mentioned eliminations, would read — 

" Into Alexander Fraser," 

" Alexander Fraser the wicht." 

In the remaining instance the title is not applied, though the line is still 
too long — 

" Quhar Alexander Fraser hirn met ; " 4 

and in this case the word " quhar " seems to have been an interpolation, 
hardly necessary to preserve the sense of the passage, which would read as 
well without it. The mention of his brother Simon shows that the last three 
instances apply to this Alexander Fraser, however it may be with the first. 

1 The Bruce, pp. 40, 187, 192, 221. 3 The Bruce, pp. 1S7, 221. 

2 Ibid. p. 40. 4 Ibid, p. 192. 


To return from this digression to the narrative. The battle of Loudoun 
Hill was fought on the 10th of May, and King Eobert's victory appears to 
have disposed of all the force that the Earl of Pembroke could bring into the 
open field ; indeed, according to Barbour, that leader, after his defeat, rode to 
England, and resigned the " wardanry " of Scotland to Edward I., who was 
then at Carlisle. 1 

While, however, his great adversary was yet alive, and preparing to lead 
a large army over the western border, King Eobert could not venture from 
that part of the country, but was obliged to hold his small force together, and 
watch the course of events. 

He was soon relieved from his most dangerous opponent. Edward I. — 
" Scotorum Malleus," the hammer of the Scots — died at Burch-on-the-Sands, 
near Carlisle, on the 7th July 1307 ; and his son, Edward II., after an inroad 
as far as Cumnock during the month of August, before which Bruce retreated, 
returned to Carlisle in the beginning of September, and retired from the 
border into the heart of England. 2 

Upon the retreat of the English monarch, King Eobert again overran all 
Galloway, accepting or compelling the submission of the inhabitants, prepara- 
tory to his projected movement towards the north, for which his victory at 
Loudon Hill in May had, to a certain extent, opened the way ; and it may 
be also fairly surmised that the recent events in England had made all the 
great nobles of that country desirous of being present at the Court, and had 
prevented fresh forces being sent to reinforce those that were then defeated 
and dispersed. 

It has been asserted by some writers that the expedition of Bruce to the 
north was undertaken in consequence of his defeat by a body of English 
troops under the command of the Earl of Eichmond. There is no good 
authority for this statement, and yet Lord Hailes, in his Annals, seems to 
favour it, for he remarks : " The evidence of this fact rests on the authority of 
the Chronicle of Lanercost, quoted by Tyrell, vol. iii. p. 225. Abercrombie, 
vol. i. p. 583, seems to question the truth of it, and yet, unless it is supposed 
to be true, it will be difficult to account for the march of Bruce to the north." 

When writing this passage, Lord Hailes does not appear to have remem- 
1 The Bruce, pp. 17S, 1S6. 2 Eymer's Fcedera, vol. iii. pp. 4-13. 


bered that the danger of leaving large districts in his rear unfriendly to his 
cause, and the information which Bruce had doubtless received, although 
afterwards made more fully acquainted with details by the two Frasers, that 
influential barons in those districts were preparing for active hostilities against 
him, were quite sufficient reasons for his determination to reduce the north to 
submission upon the first opportunity ; and that a defeat which put him to 
flight, far from accounting for his taking such a measure, would, on the 
contrary, have been the event most likely to render him utterly powerless to 
attempt a movement of that nature, for although the English garrisons were 
not strong enough to oppose his small but resolute and well-disciplined army 
on its march, they would have been able to inflict severe loss on a disheartened 
and flying body of troops. 

There is no doubt that Edward n., on the 30th of September, sent orders 
to the Earl of Eichmond to repel Brace's invasion of Galloway ; x but the story 
of the defeat of the latter cannot be accepted, and his march to the north was 
evidently caused by the skill and forethought that distinguished his military 

King Eobert must have commenced the expedition to the northern parts 
of the country about the end of September or beginning of October 1307. In 
the following passage Barbour says : — 

" And turn we to the nobill King 
That with the folk of his lecling 
Toward the Month has tane the way 
Eicht stoutly and into good array, 
Quhar Alexander Eraser him met. 
And als his brothir Symon hat (hecht) 
"With all the folk tha with tham had : 
The King gud countenans tham mad 
That was richt blyth of thar cumyn. 
Tha tald the King all the covyn 
Of Johnne Cumyn the Erl of Bouchane, 
That till help him had with him tane 
Schir Johne Mobra and othir ma, 
Schir David the Brechyn alsua, 

1 Eymer's Fcedera, vol. iii. p. 14. 


With all the folk of thar leding 
' And yharnis mar than ony thing 
Vengeans on yhou, schir King, to tak 
For Schir Johne the Cumynis sak 
That quhilom in Dumfries was slane.' " x 

Alexander Fraser and his brother Simon, with such forces as they could 
assemble, therefore, met King Kobert on his arrival at the Month, i.e. on the 
southern side of the great Grampian range of mountains. A short review 
of the position of affairs on both sides will show in how dangerous a situa- 
tion the champion of Scottish independence was even then placed. 

Although the victory of Loudoun Hill, and the other causes noticed above, 
had cleared the open country of English troops to some extent, yet they still 
held the garrisons of Bothwell, Eutherglen, Edinburgh, Linlithgow, Stirling, 
Perth, and almost every other fortress or castle. The Lothians, with 
Berwickshire, and the whole south-east of Scotland, were completely in their 
possession, while their steadfast ally, John of Lorn, and his father, Alexander 
of Argyll, held those districts, and were paramount in the Western Highlands. 

The country around Inverness, where the Earl of Boss was powerful, 
Moray, and the district of Badenoch, under the sway of the Bed Comyns, 
were in aBiance with them, and hostile to Bruce ; and in the north-east, com- 
prising the counties of Forfar, Kincardine, Aberdeen, and Banff, were situated 
the territories of his most bitter enemy, the Earl of Buchan, who was not only 
prepared to resist any attack, but, in concert with Sir John de Mobray and 
Sir David de Brechin, had assembled forces, and was on the point of marching 
southward against him. 

On the other side, Douglas, who, with very insufficient force, had been left 
in the south-west, was unable to do more than maintain a gallant resistance 
in the forest that then covered a great part of the southern hill-country ; and 
the position of King Bobert himself, with his army, was most critical, almost 
in presence of the superior force led by the confederate barons of the north- 
east, whose march to the south it was aU-important to him to prevent, but 
whom he did not dare to attack in front while his rear was liable to be 

1 The Bruce, p. 192. 


assailed by detachments from the English garrisons, which he was not strong 
enough to blockade. 

In this state of affairs King Eobert decided upon a course that strikingly 
illustrates his knowledge of the art of war, and his superiority in it to most 
of his contemporaries. 1 

He at once passed the Month, or Grampian chain, by the shortest route, 
and marched straight upon Inverury, in Aberdeenshire, thus completely 
turning the flank of the confederate barons. 

The consequences of this manoeuvre were most important ; the communi- 
cation of the confederates with Aberdeenshire was seriously perilled, the 
co-operation of the English garrisons in the districts of Perth and Stirling 
rendered impossible, the possessions of the principal leader, the Earl of 
Buchan, threatened in the absence of any to defend them, and but for the 
severe illness that prostrated King Eobert on reaching Inverury, it is more 
than probable that he would quickly have made himself master of Aberdeen, 
and that the battle would have been fought to the south of that town, 
instead of to the north-westward of it, as afterwards happened. 

The results, however, were very advantageous to the royal cause. The 
march of the confederate barons to the south, and their junction with the 
English troops, were frustrated, and the Earl of Buchan, with his allies, had 
to return to protect his own country, though, from the expression used by 
Barbour, " He sent efter his men in by ;" and as some days elapsed before he 
could lead his forces against the King, it would seem that they had been 
well on their way to their former destination. 

On his arrival at Inverury, however, King Eobert was attacked by a very 
serious illness, that incapacitated him from all exertion, mental or bodily ; 
but in Edward de Bruce, his brother, one of the most renowned warriors of 
that day, his followers found a leader equal to the duties that devolved upon 
him in consequence of this misfortune. 

Unwilling to risk a battle in the open country under such dispiriting 

1 In relating the events of this campaign, for this preference will be found in the 

the account given by Barbour has been fol- Appendix, as they do not affect the family 

lowed in preference to that found in Fordun's history, and are necessarily of a length that 

Gesta Annalia, and very generally adopted would interfere with the thread of the nar- 

by subsequent historians ; and the reasons rative if they were inserted here. 


circumstances, Sir Edward, after consultation with the other barons then 
following the King, decided on retreating from Inverury to a strong position 
in the course of the Slevach, 1 a brook descending from the Eoudland Hills, 
bordered, as its name implies, by marshy ground, where there was a wood at 
that time, according to Barbour. 2 

Here he constructed some defences, and probably formed such sort of 
entrenched camp as the engineering skill of the age suggested, and the means 
at his disposal enabled him to make ; and soon after Martinmas — about the 
end of November — the Earl of Buchan, Sir John, and Sir Philip de Mobray, 
and Sir David de Brechin appeared in front of the position with a superior 
force, hoping to obtain an easy victory, as they had heard of the King's 
dangerous condition. 

Sir Edward de Bruce, however, could not be tempted to relinquish the 
advantage of ground that he held, or to sally from his camp, but for three 
days maintained his impregnable position, merely repulsing with his archers 
the assaults of the bowmen and light-armed troops of the enemy. 

His wise and patient behaviour upon this occasion is the more remark- 
able, as his characteristic quality was bravery carried to the extreme of rash- 
ness, and may be attributed to the temperate counsels of the other leaders, as 
well as to his own feeling of responsibility. 

After three days, provisions becoming scarce, and the enemy continually 
receiving reinforcements, a further retreat was resolved upon, but it was con- 
ducted in no ordinary fashion. 

Placing the invalid King in a litter, Sir Edward de Bruce marshalled his 
forces around him in battle array, and deliberately and boldly marched out of 
the camp in full view of the adverse host, which, daunted by this resolute 
demeanour, and the strict discipline maintained by the royal army, dared 
neither attack nor pursue, but allowed him to pass on his way unmolested, 
and themselves retired to the eastward. 

Sir Edward continued his retreat to Strathbogie, where he remained undis- 

1 The Bruce, p. 193, et seq. into the very heart of the enemy's country. 

2 Some authors have believed this place to The burn of the Slevach lies in the direct 
be Slains, probably from the name having route between Inverury and Strathbogie, to 
been written " Slenach" in Fordun's Gesta which district Edward de Bruce continued 
Annalia, but it is absurd to suppose a retreat his retreat. 


turbed until the King began to recover his health. This welcome change 
in his condition took place towards the end of December, when it was 
decided to advance again to Inverury, as Barbour relates, for the greater 
facility of obtaining provisions, but doubtless also in pursuance of the 
object for which the campaign had been undertaken ; and it may here be 
noticed that this movement to Inverury, for the purpose, amongst others, 
of procuring supplies, together with no mention of reinforcements having 
joined the royal army during its stay in Strathbogie, are very strong 
evidence that Barbour was aware that it had no communication with the 
districts of Moray and Inverness, and that those parts of the country had not 
then been reconquered. 

The King, with his forces, returned to Inverury shortly before Christmas ; 
and upon hearing of his approach the Earl of Buchan, Sir John de Mobray, 
and Sir David de Brechin reassembled their troops at Old Meldrum two days 
before Christmas. 

On the morning of Christmas Eve Sir David de Brechin advanced towards 
Inverury, and surprising some outlying portions of the royal army, put them 
to flight, and killed a few of their number. 

Boused by this attack, King Robert ordered his troops to be put in battle 
array, and though far from restored to full strength, called for his horse and 
armour, replying to the remonstrances of his friends that the boast of the 
enemy had done more for his recovery than any medicine, and announcing his 
intention of himself taking the command. 

Leading his army towards Old Meldrum, he attacked the confederate 
forces, and in spite of their numerical superiority, inflicted upon them such 
a defeat and total rout that they were entirely dispersed, and unable ever to 
rally or make head again. 

The Earl of Buchan fled to England ; but immediately after this decisive 
victory King Robert ravaged and devastated his whole earldom, so, to quote 
Barbour — 

" That eftir that wele fifty yhear 
Men menit the herschip of Bouchane ;" 1 

1 The Bruce, p. 203. 


and by this vigorous proceeding he utterly broke down and destroyed the 
power of the great Comyn family, his irreconcilable enemies, whose influence 
had been so adverse to his cause. 

The submission of all the more north-westerly parts of the kingdom 
followed the victory of Inverury and the devastation of Buchan, though it 
is probable that the King either marched in person through Morayshire to 
Inverness and the adjacent country, or detached a considerable force thither ; 
and those districts being subdued, he returned southward through Kincardine- 
shire towards the counties of Forfar and Perth, and the central parts of 

The policy of Bruce at this time, and for a year or two afterwards, appears 
to have been the reduction of all the open country to submission, with- 
out wasting time in the siege of any castle or fortified town too strong to be 
carried by a coup de main; and in this manner he swelled his ranks by 
the adhesion of those who secretly favoured his cause, but had hitherto been 
powerless to espouse it, and was doubtless also joined by many who found it 
convenient to change sides on the dispersion of their former feudal lords and 
protectors. Thus many castles and towns, especially those on the sea coast 
that were capable of relief by water, remained for a time in the hands of the 
English, and it was not until the years 1311-12 that Bruce seems to have 
tamed his attention to their systematic reduction, though his possession of 
the open country must have enabled him to keep a pretty strict blockade 
upon them. 

Having thus established his authority in the northern provinces of 
the kingdom, which do not appear to have again revolted from him, or 
to have been again overrun by the English during his reign, King Bobert 
found his forces so increased that he was able to detach his brother, 
Sir Edward de Bruce, to Galloway, where Sir Ingrahame de Umphraville 
had restored the sway of England during their absence in the north, 
while he himself determined to destroy the power of his two other great 
adversaries, Alexander of Argyll and John of Lorn, as he had that of the 

James of Douglas, who, during the King's absence in the north, had 
gallantly held the great southern forest against enormous odds, and had 


surprised and captured Sir Thomas Eandolph, the King's nephew, and Sir 
Alexander Stewart of Bonkill, 1 — Sir Adam de Gordon, who was of their 
party, making his escape, — about this time rejoined King Eobert, bringing 
his prisoners with him. 2 

The story of Sir Thomas Bandolpk's insolent demeanour when brought 
into the presence of his royal uncle, of his subsequent repentance and 
reconciliation, and of his future faithful and gallant career as the renowned 
Earl of Moray, is well known. 

About the beginning of August 1308, the King led his army towards 
Argyll, advancing on that district by the passes at the head of the Tay, 
through Glen Dochart and Tyndrum, amid scenery, the wild magnificence of 
which must have been painfully brought to his recollection, and to that of 
Douglas and others who had shared his wanderings among those mountains 
during the summer and autumn of 1306, and his terrible defeat there by 
John of Lorn, which was now about to be avenged. 

He arrived on the confines of Argyll about the third week in August ; 
but the news of his approach had preceded him, and John of Lorn resolved 
on resistance, and having good intelligence of the movements of the royal 
army, prepared an ambuscade in a narrow pass at the foot of Ben Cruachan, 
where that mountain abuts on Loch Awe, hoping to entangle the King in a 
position where he could be attacked, not only on land, but also from a 
powerful fleet of galleys on the lake, and where the Knights and men-at-arms 
could not advantageously act against his Highlanders. 3 

But King Eobert, with the same warrior instinct that had prompted his 
flank march to Inverury in the last campaign, and which it is to be regretted 
so few of his descendants inherited, as they, almost all, did his courage, saw 
through the designs of his enemy, and on approaching the defile, detached 
a large force of archers under Douglas, who, as Barbour says, took with him 

1 The Bruce, p. 217. having met King Robert at the Month in the 

2 Crauford, Lives of Officers of State, autumn of 1307, but also as regards the 
p. 273, quoting Barbour as his authority, authority he quotes, for Barbour, pp. 217-18, 
states that Alexander Fraser was one of those says no such thing, and does not mention his 
captured by Douglas on this occasion ; but he name at all at that place. 

is totally in error, not only as regards the 3 Fordun, Gesta Annalia, exxvi. 

fact, which is disproved by Alexander Fraser 


" Schir Alexander the Fraser wicht, 
And Wilyham Wisman ane gud knight, 
And with tham gud Schir Andro Gray, 
Thir with thar menyhe held thar way." 1 

This force had orders to ascend the mountain by a circuitous route, and 
to attain a position commanding any that could be occupied by enemies in 
the defile ; and this having been effected, the King marched boldly with his 
main army into the pass. 

The event approved his wise precaution. When fairly engaged in the defile, 
the hitherto concealed enemy assaulted his right flank, but repulsing them 
vigorously with light-armed troops, he converted his defence into an attack 
on their position, when Douglas and his companions, also charging them 
from the heights above, the result was the complete rout of the men of 
Argyll and Lorn after a furious battle and desperate resistance, numbers 
being slain or drowned, and the victors pushing the pursuit so eagerly as to 
prevent the breaking down of the bridge over the Awe, by which the King 
and his army were enabled to cross that river at their ease. 

John of Lorn, who had watched the fight from a galley on Loch Awe, fled 
by water ; but Alexander of Argyll retired to the castle of Dunstaffnage, 
where he was soon besieged by the King, when he submitted, yielded up the 
castle, and swore fealty. There was no further opposition at that time in 
Argyll and Lorn ; but John of Lorn, who continued persistently in the 
English interest, appears soon afterwards to have re-occupied the castle of 
Loch Awe, 2 and it was his doing so that probably caused King Eobert to 
make another expedition into that district in the following year, of which, 
however, little is known, except that he was again at Dunstaffnage Castle on 
the 20th of October 1309. 3 

These two campaigns, and especially that of the winter of 1307-8, in the 
north, have been more particularly noticed, as they afford evidence of King 
Robert's military talent ; and as the earlier of the two was the first in which 
Alexander Fraser appears to have been able to accompany his royal master, 

1 The Bruce, p. 221. 

2 Rotuli Scotise, vol. i. p. 58. 

3 Robertson's Index, p. 80, No. 137. 


after the unfortunate battle of Methven, and, also, as the fact of their meeting 
having taken place at the southern base of the Grampians shows that the 
seat of the Fraser power was then in that district, and tends to disprove their 
possession, at that time, of large estates near Inverness, as stated, without a 
scintilla of authority, by some genealogists, who, misled by Fordun's account 
of the campaign, have also said that the meeting between the King and the 
Frasers occurred in the neighbourhood of that town. 

After the conquest of Argyll and Lorn, the King seems to have marched 
to the south, and to have joined his brother Edward, who had performed 
brilliant exploits in Galloway, and had once more reduced that part of the 
country to obedience ; and after threatening the English border, 1 he appears 
to have again moved northward towards Fife in the beginning of 130$. 

It was probably about this time, or it may have been before the expedition 
to Argyll, that Alexander Fraser made the attempt to draw Thomas de Grey, 
the English governor of Cupar Castle, into an ambush, which is thus related 
in the pages of an old writer : — 

" Another tyme Alexander Fresile, a Scotte, frend to Eobert Bruce, was 
sette within a little of Couper Castel, with an embuschment, and caused 
certen of his to pille a village thereby, so supposing to bring Thomas Gray 
into a trappe ; the which, hearing the cry, went to horse to see what it was. 
The embuschment, seeing that, rode of force to the very castel gates. Thomas, 
seeing this, returned his horse, and cam fair and softly through the toun of 
Cuper, and then laying spurres to his horse, and rode through them, and got 
within the barres of the castel, wher he found his owne meny arrunning out 
to help hym." 2 

There is no further information to be found about this affair, or whether 
Alexander Fraser ever succeeded in getting Thomas de Grey into his power ; 
but if the latter were the same person that had demanded, and probably 
obtained, his estate of Ugtrethrestrother from Edward I. in 1306, it may 
account for his desire, in the quaint language of the old chronicler, " to bring 
Thomas Gray into a trappe." 

Towards the end of 1308, Philip, King of France, made some attempts to 
bring about a peace or truce between Edward n. and King Eobert, and for 

1 Rotuli Scotias, vol. i. p. 57. 2 Leland's Collectanea, vol. ii. p. 545. 


that purpose addressed a letter to the latter, and the nobles of his party, 
which appears to have been received in the beginning of 1309, according to 
present computation. 

The King upon this assembled a Parliament at St. Andrews, in Fife, 1 and 
on the 16th of March, the barons that attended it, among whom appears the 
name of Alexander Fraser, affixed their seals to a reply to the French monarch, 
in which they declared Eobert de Bruce to be the rightful King of Scotland, 
and thanking Philip for his expressions of good-will, and approving of his 
design to undertake another crusade, promised to aid him in it when the 
affairs of Scotland should have been restored to order. 2 

The destruction of the power of the Comyns and their allies, followed by 
the forfeiture of their estates, placed extensive tracts of land at the disposal 
of the Crown, out of which the King now proceeded to reward his faithful 
followers ; and as Alexander Fraser had done good service in the campaign 
that proved the turning-point of his sovereign's fortunes, so he now shared 
his prosperity. 

About the year 1309 he received royal grants of the following lands in 
the sheriffdoms of Forfar and Kincardine : — 


Garuocis (Garvocks). 

Strathean (Strachan), de Essuly (Essintuly ?), Ballebrochy, and 

Culpressache. 3 

He also obtained from the King the lands of Obyne (Aboyne), at first on 
a lease, or in feu-farm, for a term of years, which was subsequently changed 
to hereditary tenure of them. 4 

He maintained amicable relations with his neighbours, the monks of 
Arbroath, and in 1312 Bernard, the Abbot, with consent of the chapter, gave 

1 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. i. from it ; but on the tag to which the seal was 
p. 99. attached is written " S. Alex' fraser." 

2 Original Letter in H. M. General Register 3 Robertson's Index, p. 1, Nos. 7, 14, 15, 
House, Edinburgh. "Unfortunately the part 18. 

where the name of Alexander Fraser occurs 4 Reg. Episc. Aberdon., vol. i. pp. 157, 

has been destroyed, and his seal is also lost 159. 


him an assedation for life of the lands of Turry, or Torry, in the parish of 
Nigg, near Aberdeen, in lieu of a pension from the rents of Conveth, to which 
he was entitled by the gift of John, the late Abbot; and in the assedation, and 
also in his resignation of the pension, he is styled " Alexander Fraser, filius 
quondam Domini Andree Fraser, militis." 1 

About the year 1312 he had put forward those pretensions or claims 
upon the estates of Mary, Lady of Duffus, in Moray, and of Strathnaver, in 
Caithness, the widow of Sir Eeginald le Chen, junior, which have been already 
noticed in the account of his father, Sir Andrew Fraser. 

This dispute was settled by the King in person, who caused certain 
agreements to be made between the parties, — of these unfortunately no record 
remains, — and at Elgin, on the 6th November 1312, issued royal letters in 
favour of Lady Mary, declaring that nothing in the agreements ordered by 
him between her and Alexander Fraser, concerning the lands of Duffus, 
should prejudice her status of inheritance in those lands, nor in any way be 
construed into her disinheritance of them, 2 from which it may be reasonably 
inferred that Alexander Fraser's claims were founded upon some hereditary 
right alleged by him, and the only possible way in which any such right 
could have accrued to him seems to be from his mother (Sir Andrew Fraser's 
wife, who in 1296 had dower lands in Catania — Caithness) having been a 
member of Lady Mary's family. 

Neither in the assedation from the Abbot of Arbroath, nor in the royal 
letters from Eobert I., is Alexander Fraser styled " Miles " (Knight), and he 
therefore seems not to have attained that rank of chivalry in 1312 ; and this 
conclusion is supported by his name being found as that of a witness 
(certainly not before the end of 1308, and probably later) to the King's 
pardon of Gilbert de Carrick, for having surrendered the castle of Lochdoune 
to the English in 1306. 3 In the list of witnesses Edward de Bruce, 
James Senescallus or Stewart, Thomas Eandolph, John de Menteith, and 
Nigel Campbell are called "militibus" (knights), while James de Douglas, 
Alexander Fraser, and Walter de Bykyrton are not so designated ; and the 

1 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. i. p. 258. 

2 Ibid. vol. iv. p. 611. 

3 Robertson's Index, p. 135, No. 8. 


proof that the pardon was not of an earlier date, consists in Sir Thomas 
Eandolph having been one of the witnesses, for he was not retaken by 
Douglas until the summer of 1308, nor released from imprisonment and 
reconciled to his uncle until late in that year, after the expedition to Argyll 
at the earliest. 

After the year 1308 Barbour does not again mention the name of 
Alexander Fraser, and there are no means of tracing any particular service 
upon which he was employed, nor any particular actions at which he was 
present, but it cannot be doubted that one who, as will be seen, rose to con- 
siderable eminence in the state, became closely connected by marriage with 
his sovereign, and constantly received tokens of his friendship and favour, 
must also have borne a worthy part in the glorious events of the next few 
years, including the three invasions of the northern counties of England in 
1311-13, and the reduction of all the fortresses in Scotland, with the excep- 
tion of Stirling, down to the great victory of Bannockburn in 1314, which 
crowned King Bobert's heroic efforts, and for a time freed Scotland from the 
presence of the English invaders ; and as after that period the designation 
" Miles " always accompanies his name, it is probable that Alexander Fraser 
was knighted, with Walter the Steward, James of Douglas, and other dis- 
tinguished leaders, immediately before that decisive battle. 1 

His name is not mentioned among those who accompanied Sir Edward 
de Bruce on his invasion of Ireland in 1315, but he probably took part in 
the King's expedition to the Hebrides during that year, when, drawing his 
fleet across the isthmus of Tarbert, Eobert I. reduced the western isles to 
obedience, and having succeeded in capturing his old and inveterate enemy, 
John of Lorn, sent him at first to Dunbarton, and thence to the castle of 
Loch Leven, where he died. 

About the following year, 1316, Sir Alexander Fraser married Lady 
Mary de Bruce, the King's sister, and widow of Sir Neil or Nigel Campbell. 

That lady having been made captive in 1306 by the Earl of Boss when 
accompanying the Queen in her flight from Kildromie to Tain, was by him 
delivered to Edward I., by whom she was sentenced to imprisonment in 
Boxburgh Castle, and ordered to have similar treatment to that commanded 

1 The Bruce, p. 288. 


for Isabella, Countess of Buchan, in the castle of Berwick, which some 
authors have described as being put into a wooden cage, and hung over the 
walls of the fortress ; but the order for the incarceration of the Countess, 
of which the following is a translation, will not warrant such an exaggera- 
tion : — - 1 

It is ordered and commanded, by letters under the Privy Seal, to the 
Chamberlain of Scotland, or his Lieutenant at Berwick-on-Tweed, that in one 
of the towers within the castle there, in whatever place he shall find most 
convenient, he shall cause to be made a cage of strong latice of ... , and 
barred, and well secured by a lock, in which he shall place the Countess of 
Buchan, and that he shall cause her to be so well and so securely guarded in 
the cage that she cannot get out of it in any way. And that he shall assign 
one woman, or two, of the said town of Berwick, English, who is not, or are 
not, under any suspicion, . . . understands, or understand, how to serve the 
said Countess with food and drink, and other things necessary to her in . . . 
residence ; and that he cause her to be so well and strictly kept in that cage 
that she shall speak to none, neither man nor woman, of the Scottish nation, 
nor any other ... to her, except only the woman, or women, assigned to 
serve her, and those who have the custody of her. 

And that the cage shall be so made that the Countess shall there have the 
convenience of a private closet, but that it shall be so very securely arranged 
that she has no speech but in presence of the guard of the said Countess. 
And that he who shall have the custody of her be responsible for her, body 
for body, and that he have the allowance " des custagis." 

In the same manner it is ordered that Marie, sister to Eobert de Bruce, 
late Earl of Carrick, be sent to Eoxburgh, to be kept ... in the castle in a 
cage. 2 . 

1 Matthew of Westminster and others. the castles would have been considered even 

2 Rymer's Fcedera, vol. ii. p. 1014. This in that rough age. The order expressly says 
mandate, though it ordains a very strict and that the "kage" is to he constructed in one 
almost barbarous imprisonment, yet com- of the turrets within the castle. The opposite 
pletely contradicts the assertions made by story seems, according to Lord Hailes, to have 
some authors as to the outrage upon all originated with Matthew of Westminster, 
decency and humanity, which the suspension whom other writers, especially Abercromby, 
of these ladies in cages outside the walls of have copied. 


Having endured this severe imprisonment for four years, Lady Mary de 
Bruce at length found a termination to her sufferings. On the 4th July 
1310 she was exchanged for nine nobles or gentlemen, either English, or 
Scots in the English interest, who were then prisoners of war to King 
Eohert. Their names were — 
John de la Mouhre. 

Michael de Menilevre. Eohert de Lindelles. 

Gerard de la Farde. Nicholas de Cest. 

Peter de Courteys. John de Boysy. 

John de Baillo. William de Coupeland. 

And by this arrangement she was again restored to her country and 
friends. 1 

It is doubtful whether she had been married to her first husband, Sir 
Neil Campbell, before her captivity; but by his death, about 1315, she was 
left a widow, and in 1316, as above mentioned, her hand was bestowed upon 
Sir Alexander Fraser. 

In 1318 Sir Alexander was one of the barons who in Parliament, 
on the Sunday after St. Andrew's Day, enacted the order of succession 
to the Crown, declaring that, in case of the heir succeeding while a 
minor, the Earl of Moray, or, failing him, the good Sir James of Douglas, 
should be Begent. 2 

This settlement had become necessary in consequence of the untimely 
fate of Sir Edward de Bruce, the king's brother, who had been recog- 
nised as his heir, but who fell on the field of battle at Carrickfergus, 
in Ireland, gallantly fighting against enormous odds, which he had en- 
countered, according to his usual custom, without regard to disparity of 

About 1319 the office of " Camerarius," or Lord Chamberlain of Scotland, 
which had been held by Sir William de Lindesay, becoming vacant, the 
king conferred it upon Sir Alexander Fraser, who, on the 3d August in that 
year, was ordered in that capacity to determine the marches between Ard- 
logie, belonging to the Abbey of Arbroath, and the King's Park at Fyvie, in 

1 Rotuli Scotia?, vol. i. p. 86. vol. i. p. 105. Robertson's Index, Appendix, 

2 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, p. 10. 


Aberdeenshire, which duty he performed through his lieutenants j 1 and on 
the 10th December in the same year he was a witness, 2 as Chamberlain, at 
Berwick, to a charter from the King to the burgesses of Aberdeen (of which 
body he was an honorary member), 3 of the burgh of Aberdeen and forest of 
the Stocket. 

On 6th April 1320, the barons of Scotland, assembled at Arbroath, affixed 
their seals to the celebrated letter to Pope John xxii., 4 which in simple but 
unmistakeable language expressed the sentiments which influenced those who 
signed it, and is especially remarkable as being almost, if not altogether, the 
first public expression in Scotland of true patriotism, or love of country, and 
independence, and also for the declaration, worthy of freemen, that they had 
determined to maintain King Eobert's right to the Crown, because he had by 
so many and such great labours and achievements restored their independence ; 
but that, if ever he should alter his conduct and attempt to subject them or 
their country to the King of England, or the English, they would expel 
him as a subverter of his own and their rights, and woidd choose another 
king who would defend them, " for, so long as one hundred remain alive, we 
will never in any way be subject to the dominion of the English ... for we 
do not fight for glory, riches, or honours, but for freedom alone, which no 
good man will lose except with life." 

Sir Alexander Eraser was one of the gallant men who in these energetic 
words expressed the feelings which they supported by their actions, and 
although he is not expressly designated as " Camerarius," or Chamberlain, 
in the document, of which a duplicate is preserved in the Eegister House 
at Edinburgh, his name is placed immediately before those of Sir Gilbert 
de la Haye, the Constable, and Sir Eobert de Keth, the Marischal of Scotland. 
The impression of his seal, of which a woodcut is given in this work, is still 
attached to the parchment, and on the lower side of the tag connecting it is 
written " S' Alexi' Fras'." 

About the year 1321 he received a charter of his hereditary estate of 

1 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iii. 4 H. M. General Eegister House, Edinburgh. 
p. 545. Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. i. 

2 Ibid. vol. iii. p. 212. p. 114. 

3 Spalding Club Miscellany, vol. v. p. 10. 


Touch-fraser, in Stirlingshire, 1 and the date of this occurrence raises a pre- 
sumption that his predecessor, Sir Eichard Fraser, who certainly escaped the 
fatal autumn and winter of 1306, and was alive in April 1307, may have 
lived long enough to have his last years cheered by the sight of his country's 
restoration to independence. 

At the same time, although Sir Alexander Fraser succeeded to the estate 
of Touch-fraser and others, in the centre of Scotland, neither he nor his heirs 
are found to have been in possession of the properties in the Sheriffdoms of 
Berwick, Edinburgh, Eoxburgh, and Eeebles, which, by the mandate of 
Edward I. for their restoration, appear to have belonged to Sir Eichard Fraser 
in 1296. 

It is possible that some of these were merely superiorities, and that they 
may have been bought up by the tenants of the lands ; but Edward I. very 
largely distributed the possessions of those who joined King Eobert's first 
rising, or shared in earlier attempts at independence, and many of these 
lands may have fallen to individuals who, afterwards changing sides, earned 
by their services during the long war the right to retain them, or were too 
powerful to be safely dispossessed of them, or in the then disorganised state 
of the kingdom, some may have been taken possession of by faithful and 
constant adherents to the cause of Bruce. 

An instance of the first kind is found in the case of Sir Alexander 
Fraser himself, who held the estate of Ugtrethrestrother, in Fife, which in 
1297 Edward I. had taken from Macduff, then in rebellion, and had given to 
his father, Sir Andrew Fraser; and one of the second in the charter from 
Eobert I. to the good Sir James de Douglas, of the whole of the great 
forest which he had so bravely and successfully defended, and which 
extended over large portions of the counties of Lanark, Peebles, Selkirk, 
Eoxburgh, and Dumfries. 2 

It may therefore be inferred that the large grants in the districts of 
Aberdeen, Kincardine, and Forfar, bestowed by the King upon Sir Alexander 
Fraser, were not only rewards for his eminent services, but were also given 
and accepted in compensation for such of his hereditary lands in the southern 
counties as it was not in the sovereign's power to restore without incurring 
1 Robertson's Index, p. 8, No. 86. 2 Ibid. p. 10, Nos. 15-26. 


the opposition and enmity of those whom he must have dispossessed in 
doing so. 

As required by the duties of his office of Chamberlain, Sir Alexander 
Eraser's attendance upon the King was very constant; his name is found as a 
witness to numerous royal charters, and he seems to have accompanied him 
in most of his expeditions or changes of residence. In 1323 a peace was 
concluded with Edward n., and he was one of the barons of Scotland that 
swore to the observance of it. 1 

Lady Mary de Bruce did not survive the year 1323 (although the date of 
her death is unknown), for at Kinross, on the 2 2d of September in that year, 
the King gave a charter of confirmation of six acres of land in the royal 
tenement of Auchincarnie, near the royal manor of Kincardine, together with 
a right of pasturage in the thanage of Kincardine, to his beloved and faithful 
Sir Alexander Eraser, to be held by him and his heirs legitimately procreated 
between him and the late Mary de Bruce, the King's sister. 2 

He had also obtained the barony of Cluny, in Aberdeenshire ; but no 
charter or notice of a charter granting it to him is extant, except that of the 
18th of June 1325, by which he received from the King the lands of 
Cardenye, with the fishings of the loch of Skene, in augmentation of his 
barony of Cluny. 3 

He also obtained the barony of Kinnarde, probably by purchase, as it was 
granted to him on the resignation of Thomas de Kinnarde ; and he had a 
charter of "an annual furthe of Pendreche," in Stirlingshire, but to what 
amount is not said. 4 

Sir Alexander Eraser appears to have held the office of Chamberlain of 
Scotland for seven years, from 1319 to about 1326. Crauford, "Lives of 
Officers of State," pp. 275-6, says that he did not become Chamberlain until 
1325, and retained that office until the close of the reign of Eobert i. in 1329, 
and also that he succeeded Eobert de Peebles in it. But Sir Alexander's tenure 
of the Chamberlainship, and the fact of Eobert de Peebles having succeeded 

1 Rynier's Fcedera, vol. iii. p. 1025. 3 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iii. pp. 

a Robertson's Index, p. 17, No. 51. Had- 116, 117. Robertson's Index, p. 16, No. 24. 

dington Collections, in Advocates' Library, 4 Ibid. p. 17. No. 45 ; p. 23, No. 7. 
vol. ii. p. 53, last division. 


him, are very distinctly shown by his name appearing without that designa- 
tion as a witness to a royal charter granted in favour of Henry le Chen, Bishop 
of Aberdeen, on the Tuesday following St. Andrew's Day 1318, 1 by the order 
addressed to him in that capacity on the 3d of August 1319, to determine the 
marches between Fyvie and Ardlogie: 2 by the last extant document in which 
he appears as Chamberlain, a precept or order from him to the alderman and 
bailies of Eoxburgh to pay twenty shillings yearly to the canons of Dryburgh, 
being dated the 1st of November 1325 ; 3 and by his name appearing without 
that designation, as a witness to a royal charter granting the Church of 
Eathen to the chapter of Aberdeen, on the 20th of March 1327, and to 
another in favour of the hospitallers of Turriff, on the 6th of October 1328, 4 
in which last year Eobert de Peebles, then Chamberlain, collected arrears 
due in the time of Sir Alexander Fraser's tenure of the office. 5 

In 1327, further tokens of his sovereign's favour were bestowed upon him, 
and on the 6th of April the King granted a charter to his beloved and 
faithful Sir Alexander Fraser, and John, his son, the King's nephew, of the 
forest of Craigie, in the thanage of Collie — Cowie (called in other documents 
the forest of Cowie), in the Sheriffdom of Kincardine, in which the King was 
causing an enclosed park to be made, containing 1500 " particates " of land, to 
be held by them and their heirs, under burden of keeping up the said park for 
the King ; 6 and about the same time Eobert I. conferred the thanage of Cowie 
and Craiginning Glasculloche upon Sir Alexander Fraser by another charter. 7 

The mistake of supposing the thanage of Cowie to have been Sir 
Alexander Fraser's principal estate has been already referred to, and 
this error has led some genealogists aud historians of the family to assert, 
without any authority, that it was in the possession of Frasers from a much 
earlier period. Not only is there no evidence of any kind to support that 
assertion, but all that exists tends to prove the contrary. The forests of 

1 Reg. Episc. Aberdon., vol. i. p. 45. Acts Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. ii. p. 
of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. i. p. 339. 

118. 6 Chamberlain Rolls, vol. i. p. 26. 

2 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iii. c Haddington Collections, Advocates' Li- 
P- 545. brary, vol. ii. p. 63, last division. Robert- 

3 Cart. Dryburgh, No. 306. son's Index, p. 17, No. 55. 

4 Reg. Episc. Aberdon., vol. i. p. 48. 7 Robertson's Index, p. 17, No. 61. 


Cowie, Durris, and Aberdeen were in the hands of the powerful Comyn 
family, as keepers of them, in the end of the thirteenth century, for Edward i. 
ordered a mandate to be addressed to John Comyn, Earl of Buchan, in that 
capacity in 1292, 1 and the charters of 1327 are certainly the first in which 
any person of the name of Fraser is found connected with Cowie. 

The various grants of land that have been enumerated in the preceding 
pages show that Sir Alexander Fraser had acquired very extensive estates, 
and these, together with his alliance by marriage to the royal family, must 
have rendered him one of the most powerful and influential barons in the 
north of Scotland ; and the lines in which Barbour describes the cause of the 
steadfast friendship that existed between King Bobert and James de Douglas 
are equally applicable to him — 

" For he servit aye lelely, 
And the other full wilfully, 
That was both worthy, wicht, and wise, 
Bewardit him wele his service." 2 

Sir Alexander Fraser was Vicecomes or Sheriff of the Mearns or Kincardine. 
He is so designated in a charter granted by Bobert Janitor (Forter) of 
Kincardine, 3 to which he and his brother Simon were witnesses. He was 
also Vicecomes of Stirling, 4 which office, as already noticed, descended to his 
granddaughter, and had been enjoyed by his father, Sir Andrew Fraser, in 
whom, therefore, it first became hereditary in the family, although at a former 
period, 1234, held by Sir Bernard Fraser. 

Upon the death of the great restorer of the independence of Scotland, the 
good King Bobert Bruce, which event occurred on the 7th June 1329, the 
quiet and prosperity which during the latter years of his reign had gladdened 
and enriched his country, ere long gave place to scenes of a far different 

Although the young King David II. was- but eight years of age when he 
succeeded to the throne of his glorious father, two eminent guardians had 
been appointed to protect his youth and inexperience; and had it pleased 

1 Rotuli Scotise, vol. i. p. 10. 3 Arbuthnot Charter-cliest. 

2 The Bruce, p. 40. 4 Chamberlain Rolls, vol. i. p. 13. 


Providence to prolong their lives, the fate of Scotland in that age might have 
been very different. 

But, alas ! the good Sir James of Douglas fell on the field of battle in 
Spain, whilst conveying his late sovereign's heart to the holy sepulchre, in 
obedience to his last request ; and Sir Thomas Eandolph, the great Earl of 
Moray, after a brief but wise regency, was cut off by illness, some say by 
poison, in the month of July 1332. 

About this time Edward de Baliol, the son of the former King John de 
Baliol, with many of those nobles who had forfeited their lands in Scotland, 
supported by the power of Edward in. of England, encouraged also by the 
nonage of King David, the death of one guardian, and the approaching 
decease of the other, determined to make an energetic attempt for the recovery 
of the throne which his father had lost through his failure to preserve its 
independence, and which he himself only proposed to hold as a vassal to the 
English Crown. 

Landing in Eife, he dispersed some troops hastily collected to oppose him, 
and marching onward to the river Erne, found himself, near Dupplin, in 
presence of a large force commanded by Donald, Earl of Mar, who, after the 
Earl of Moray's death, had been appointed Eegent, and to whose incapacity 
the fate of Scotland and her young King was then intrusted. 

No order was maintained in the Scottish army ; feasting and drunkenness 
prevailed throughout the camp, and being informed of this negligence and 
misrule, Baliol decided on making a night attack, passed the river by a ford, 
and advanced to the assault. 

Some few only of the leaders of the Scottish army preserved discipline, 
and kept watch as became the old soldiers of Eobert Bruce. 

These were Thomas Eandolph, Earl of Moray, the son of the late Eegent, 
Eobert de Bruce, Earl of Carrick, an illegitimate son of the late King, 
Murdoch, Earl of Menteith, and Sir Alexander Fraser, 1 who, with such of 
their men as they could assemble, not much exceeding three hundred, made 
a desperate resistance ; but, unsupported and, indeed, overwhelmed by the 
disorganised and panic-stricken remainder of the army, after having slain 
many of the assailants, they fell overpowered by numbers, and on this field, 

1 Buchanan, lib. ix. cap. vi. 


fatal to Scotland as to himself, Sir Alexander Fraser gloriously ended a life 
devoted to the service of his King and country. 1 

By his wife, Lady Mary de Bruce, he left two sons — ■ 



Sir Alexander Fraser, 1320.' 

1 Fordun, Gesta Annalia, No. cxlvi. Wyntoun, cap. xxvi. The print of Wynton's Metrical 
Chronicle, in mentioning the leaders of the Scottish army at the battle of Dupplin, has the 
following couplet : — 

" The Erie Menteith, Murthak alsua, 
Alexander the Fraser yhoung with tha." 
This epithet " yhoung" could not be applied to the Sir Alexander, who had been Chamberlain ; 
but on referring to the four MS. copies of the Chronicle in the British Museum, the following 
are the readings of the second line : — 

Nero, dxi., late fifteenth century : " Alexander Freser zang w* ya." 

Royal, 17, D. 20, ,, : " Alysand r ye frysar yhoung w' ya " 

Lansdowne, 197, early sixteenth century : " Alexr. fras wes ane of yai." 
Harley, 6909, seventeenth century : " Alexander the fresall younger with tha." 

But the Chronicle was composed in eight-syllable metre, and it is most probable that the 
earliest of the epithets, " zang ," was an interpolation of some transcriber, as the definite 
article before the surname in two of the copies assuredly was, and that the couplet, as 
originally written by Wyntoun, stood thus : — 

" The Erie Menteith, Murthak alsua, 
Alexander Fraser with tha." 
Neither Fordun nor his continuator Bowyer, nor any other chronicler, apply the epithet. 

2 In Laing's Scottish Seals, vol. i. No. 349, the shield on this seal is said to be charged 
with three cinquefoils, but this is a mistake, the number is six, 3.2.1, as depicted in the 
facsimile of the letter of 1320 to the Pope, Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. i., and 
verified by inspection of the original in H. M. General Register House, Edinburgh. 




The invasion of Scotland by Edward Baliol in 1332, and its extraordinary 
success, had revolutionised the kingdom, and though he was vigorously 
opposed, and driven to great straits, during the remainder of that year, the 
power of England soon engaged in the contest, and in 1333 the victory of 
Halidon put an end to all further general resistance, and once more for a 
time brought the mass of the population under the English yoke. 

Thereafter, for a period of eight or nine years, the independent spirits who 
would not brook the domination of a king forced upon them, nor the tyranny 
of England, fought as best they could for life and liberty. 

Eetreating into impregnable strengths, or moving in flying columns across 
the more accessible districts, attacking a fortress here or defending a strong 
position there, often victorious, and at times defeated, as the fortune of war 
might chance, retiring before the powerful invasions of Edward III. in 1334 
and 1335, but renewing their efforts on his return to his own country, under 
the leadership of Sir Andrew Moray of Bothwell, Sir William de Douglas, 
Eobert the Steward of Scotland, afterwards Eobert II., and other brave 
chieftains, they maintained the desperate contest with gradually increasing 
success down to the year 1341, when their gallant and patriotic efforts, aided 
by the outbreak of war between England and France in 1337, had so far 
restored their independence that the young King, David II., was enabled 
to return from the latter country, to which he had been sent as a secure 

Sir Alexander Fraser's sons were not of sufficient age to take a prominent 
position during the earliest years of this second struggle for freedom. 

Born, certainly not before the end of the year 1316, or beginning of 1317, 
John Fraser, his eldest son, was not above sixteen years old at his father's 
death ; and though he may have been present at the battles of Dupplin and 
Halidon Hill, could not have held any important command at either. 

He is mentioned in the charter of the forest of Craigie, in the thanage of 
Cowie, to his father and himself, where he is called nephew by Eobert I. ; and 


his name also appears in the title of a missing charter of the thanage of 
Aberbothnet (Arbuthnot), bestowed upon him by that King. 1 

A story is related by Kennedy in his Annals of Aberdeen, and perhaps 
by others, of the citizens of that good burgh, under the command of a John 
Fraser, having attacked and taken the castle of Aberdeen, razing it to the 
ground, and putting the garrison to the sword ; and of their having also 
defeated, with great slaughter, a body of English troops marching to its 
relief. The date of these events is placed by Kennedy in May 1308, after the 
battle of Inverury, won by Eobert I. ; and he also states that, in penance for 
certain cruelties committed at the time, the citizens were enjoined to repair 
every Sunday to a chapel at the castle, there to pray for the souls of their 
victims, and that after the Eeformation the people continued to proceed to 
the terrace of the castle hill every Sunday as soon as the forenoon sermon 
was over, without knowing the original cause of the custom. 

The late Dr. Eobertson effectually disproved the correctness of the above 
date, 2 by showing that Edward II. ordered the castle to be revictualled on the 
10th of July 1308, which is pretty good evidence that it had not been razed 
to the ground in May of that year, and by other arguments ; and upon the 
ground of its non-appearance in the pages of Barbour, and other contemporary 
historians, he characterised the whole story from beginning to end as a clumsy 
and ill-devised falsehood, to which he might have added that there is no 
hint to be found anywhere of the existence of a John Fraser in 1308 in any 
way connected with Aberdeen. 

There are, however, certain circumstances that seem to point to the story 
not being altogether such a myth as Dr. Eobertson considered it, and to the 
possibility of such an occurrence having taken place in the course of the 
second struggle for independence, during the minority of David II. 

The attack and capture of the castle is said to have taken place after a 
defeat of the Comyns by the partisans of Bruce. Henry de Beaumont, 
who represented the Comyn family, and had recovered the possessions from 
which Eobert I. had expelled the Earl of Buchan in 1307, was driven from 
them by Sir Andrew Moray, and forced to surrender his castle of Dundarg, 

1 Haddington Collections, Robertson's Index, pp. 17, 18, Nos. 55, 60. 

2 Book of Bonaccord, p. 33. 


in Buchan, and to retire into England in 1334; and during the next two 
years Sir Andrew overran and wasted all Kincardine and Forfar, compelling 
such friends of Baliol as could escape to fly for their lives. 1 

The origin assigned for the prayers performed by the citizens in the chapel 
of the castle on each Sunday is probable enough, and their continued resort 
to the same spot at similar times, after the cause of their assembling in that 
manner was forgotten among them, shows that it was a custom of very long 

About 1334, also, there was a John Fraser in existence, who, from his 
position, as nephew to the late King, son and heir of Sir Alexander Fraser, 
and a rightful owner of large estates in the neighbourhood, of which he had 
been deprived by Edward Baliol's party, and from the connection of his 
family with the burgh of Aberdeen (his father, and, at least, one of his 
uncles, Simon, had been honorary burgesses), 2 was a most likely person to 
raise the citizens in support of the royal family, from which they had received 
so many favours, and to lead them to the victory that they are credited with 
by Kennedy. 

A passage occurs in the Chamberlain Bolls, where the heirs of Bobert 
de Keith and of Alexander Fraser of "Ewnysedale" are said to have 
usurped the office of Vicecomes or Sheriff of Aberdeen for several years prior 
to 1345-6. 3 

The date of the entry is 1348, and at that time Sir Edward de Keith was 
Marischal ; but down to 1346 he had been heir to his grandnephew, Sir 
Bobert de Keith, the Marischal, who was killed at the battle of Durham. 

As Sir Edward's son, William, married John Fraser's only daughter, 
Margaret, there can be little doubt that their respective fathers were the 
persons to whom the passage refers, and perhaps John Fraser's successful 
leadership of the citizens of Aberdeen may have enabled him and his friend, 
Sir Edward de Keith, to seize upon that office for a time. 

It is not easy to decide upon the interpretation of the word " Ewnysedale " 
in the passage, for no estate of that name appears to have been in the posses- 

1 Fordun, Gesta Annalia, cl., clvi. 

2 Spalding Club Miscellany, vol. v. p. 10. 

3 Chamberlain Rolls, vol. i. p. 2S7. 


sion of Sir Alexander Fraser, the Chamberlain, nor of any other member of 
the family, or is found in any other record. 

Perhaps it may have been a variation of Strathean or Strathechin (as 
Clydesdale is of Strath Clyde), where one of Sir Alexander Fraser's 
residences may have been situated, for in 1351 the above-mentioned William 
de Keith, with consent of his wife, Margaret Fraser, granted a charter which 
was dated, "Apud mansum capitale nostrum de Strathekin." 1 From his 
daughter having been styled heir to her grandfather instead of to him, John 
Fraser seems to have died before he could make up any title to his hereditary 
possessions, though whether he fell in one of the many conflicts of that 
stormy age or died a natural death, there is no record to prove. 

He left no male issue, and there is no information to be obtained of the 
name or family of his wife. 

He was succeeded by an only daughter and heiress, Margaret. 




The fact of Margaret Fraser having made good her title as heir 
to her grandfather, Sir Alexander Fraser, of whose estates she inherited 
nearly the whole, evinces her to have been the only daughter of his eldest 
son, John. 

Her father could only have reached his twentieth year about 1336-7, and 
in all probability she was not born much before then, though, from her eldest 
son having been, in his turn, a father before 1375, her birth cannot be placed 
much later. 

At an early age she was deprived of her father's protection by his death, 
but she found security against the dangers to which so rich an heiress would 
be exposed in those troubled times, by her betrothal to William, eldest son of 
Sir Edward de Keith, the Marischal. 

Sir William de Keith, who had become Marischal on the death of his 
father before 1351, in that year called Margaret Fraser his wife, in a charter 
1 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. ii. p. 72. 


of the lands of Wester Mathers, near Arbuthnot, which he declared himself 
to possess in her right. 1 

She made up her title as heir to her grandfather, and successfully 
asserted her right to his large estates, for, in a charter granted by herself 
and her husband, jointly, in 1361, she is styled " neptis et heres bone 
memorie quondam Domini Alexandri Fraser, Militis;" 2 and one of these 
estates was the forest of Cowie, which is found in the Marischal's possession 
in 1359. 3 

Margaret Fraser and her husband enjoyed long and prosperous lives ; they 
survived until near the end of the first decade of the fifteenth century, and 
had several children. Their eldest son, John, died in the latter part of the 
year 1375, having married a daughter of King Eobert n., by whom he had 
a son, Eobert, 4 who also predeceased his grand-parents, leaving an only 
daughter, Jean, married to the first Earl of Huntly. 

About 1380, or perhaps a little earlier, Eobert Stewart, Earl of Fife, 
afterwards the famous Eegent Duke of Albany, third son of King Eobert II., 
having been left a widower by the death of his first wife, Margaret, 
daughter of Allan, Earl of Menteith, espoused Murielle, daughter of Sir 
William de Keith and Margaret Fraser, by whom he had issue three sons, 
John, afterwards the renowned Earl of Buchan, Andrew, and Eobert 

It was doubtless in consequence of this alliance that, on the 2d of May 
1407, Margaret Fraser, conjointly with her husband, the Marischal, granted 
a charter of the barony of Obeyn (Aboyne), in Aberdeenshire, 5 to John 
Stewart, Lord of Buchan, and his heirs-male ; whom failing, to Andrew 
Stewart 6 and Eobert Stewart, and their heirs-male successively ; and failing 
these, to Eobert de Keith, their own second son, and his heirs-male ; and also 
upon the same day granted another charter of the lands of Touch-fraser and 

' x Spalding Club Miscellany, vol. v. p. 248. 6 Crawfurd, Officers of State, p. 306, says 

2 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. ii. p. 73. that Andrew was a son of the Regent Albany 

3 Chamberlain Rolls, vol. i. p. 339. by his first marriage, but it is not probable 
* Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. ii. that an elder half-brother would have been 

p. 74. interposed between two sons of the Regent 

5 Robertson's Index, p. 163, No. 20. by his second marriage in the destination of 
Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. ii. p. 35. these charters. 


Drippis, in Stirlingshire, with the office of vicecomes of that county, to the 
same individuals in similar succession. 1 

Another daughter of the Marischal and Margaret Fraser, Elizabeth, 
married Sir Adam de Gordon, Lord of Strathbogie, and seems to have 
received from her parents some portion of her mother's estates, for her 
daughter, Elizabeth de Gordon, who married Sir Alexander de Seton, appears 
in 1436 to have taken steps to assert her hereditary right to a part of these 
by obtaining a transumpt of the charter of Cardenye, etc., granted to Sir 
Alexander Fraser in augmentation of his barony of Cluny by Eobert I. in 
1325. 2 Elizabeth de Gordon's son, Alexander, the first Earl of Huntly, 
married his cousin Jean, as above noticed. 

The office of Marischal, and most of the estates jointly held by Sir 
William de Keith and Margaret Fraser, however, descended to their second 
son Eobert, 3 and hence arose the contention between the families of Seton- 
Gordon, Earls of Huntly, and Keith Marischal, respecting the lands that had 
belonged to Margaret Fraser as heiress of her grandfather, which continued 
with great acrimony until its settlement, about 1442-4, by their partition 
between the two families. 

By the charter that Alexander, the first Earl of Huntly, received from 
James n. in. 1450 the lordship of Strathbogie, the lands of Cluny, Tulche, 
Obyn, Glentanner, and Glenmuick were erected into a free barony, to be 
called Huntly, and together with the barony of Panbride and the lordship 
of Gordon, were granted as the earldom of Huntly to him and his heirs by 
his third wife, Elizabeth de Crichton ; 4 and of these, Cluny, Obyn (Aboyne), 
and Panbride had certainly been the property of Sir Alexander Fraser, and 
consequently of Margaret Fraser, and in all probability Tulche, 5 Glentanner, 
and Glenmuick also ; and the Earl seems to have acquired his right to them 
partly through his mother, and partly from his first wife, Jean de Keith, 
though he had no issue by her. 

There is, however, a little obscurity in the descent of some portions of 

! Robertson's Index, p. 163, No. 19. 4 Antiquitiesof Aberdeenshire, vol.iv. p. 340. 

2 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iii. 5 This Tulche is Touch, in Strathdee, a part 
p. 316. of the old barony of Cluny, not Toueh-fraser, 

3 Ibid. vol. ii. p. 74 ; vol. iii. p. 230. or Tulchfraser, in Stirlingshire. 


Margaret Eraser's estates that may require some explanation. It has been 
seen above that the lands of Aboyne, in Aberdeenshire, with those of 
Touch-fraser and Drippis, in Stirlingshire, were given by the Marischal and 
his wife to their grandson, John Stewart, Earl of Buchan, in 1407. The 
Earl of Buchan left an only daughter and heiress, Jean or Margaret, who 
before 1436 married George de Seton of Seton, afterwards first Lord Seton, 
a second cousin of the first Earl of Huntly, and they had male issue. 

But as Aboyne formed a part of the earldom of Huntly according to the 
charter of 1450, and the ancestor of the family of Seton of Touch-fraser was 
Alexander de Seton, eldest son of the first Earl of Huntly by his second 
wife, Egidia de la Hay (the earldom being limited to his heirs by his third 
wife, Elizabeth de Crichton), it is evident that these lands must have 
passed from the possession of the Earl of Buchan and the substitutes in the 
charter of 1407 into the hands of the Earl of Huntly, and it is not easy to 
trace how this occurred. 

Genealogists have solved the question by saying that they were part of 
the inheritance of his second wife, Egidia, the daughter and heiress of Sir 
John de la Hay of Touch and Tullibody ; but, besides that this will not 
account for Aboyne, whatever lands she may have brought to her husband, it 
is impossible that Touch-fraser could be among them, unless there had been 
some transference of it from the Earl of Buchan to the de la Hay family, of 
which there is no trace. 

In a pedigree of the name of Hay, in order apparently to account for 
Egidia's possession of that estate, a Sir Andrew Fraser of Touch and 
Tullibody is introduced among her ancestors ; but whatever truth there may 
be in this, it is certain that the Touch there referred to was not Touch-fraser, 
which was in Margaret Fraser's hands down to the year 1407. 

Touch, or Tulch, also written Tullich, and contracted into Tuly or Tilli, 
derived, according to the trustworthy authority of Mr. W. Skene, either from 
the genitive form of Tulach, a little hill, or of Tealach, a family, 1 is a very 
common prefix or affix to Scottish names of places ; and if there ever was a 
Sir Andrew Eraser of Touch, he was probably one of the individuals of that 
name of whom some account will be found in the Appendix. 

1 Historians of Scotland, Fordun, vol. ii. Appendix, p. 443. 


It appears then pretty evident that these estates, Aboyne, Touch- fraser, 
and Drippis, were not brought into her husband's family by Egidia de la 
Hay, and it is probable that Sir Eobert de Keith, the second son of Sir 
William de Keith, the Marisclial, and Margaret Fraser, who succeeded his 
father as Marischal, acquired these possessions in terms of the charters of 
1407, upon the death, without male issue, of John Stewart, Earl of Buchan, 
and his brothers Andrew and Eobert, to whom they had been successively 
granted ; and that the first Earl of Huntly put forward his pretensions to 
them, as he did to the other parts of Margaret Fraser's property, and that 
they fell to his share upon the partition of her estates, which put an end to 
the contention between the families of Seton-Gordon and Keith- Marischal, 
about 1442-4. The Earl seems to have incorporated Aboyne in the earldom 
on account of its position within the barony of Huntly, but he granted the 
distant estates of Touch-fraser and Drippis to his eldest son, Alexander de 
Seton, as they were situated at no great distance from that of Tullibody, 
which the latter inherited from his mother, Egidia de la Hay. 

It is probable that the sheriffship ceased to be an hereditary office ; but 
from a Sir Alexander de Seton of Touch-fraser having received that appoint- 
ment for life in 1488, the possession of that estate may have given him some 
claim to it. 

A third daughter of the Marischal and Margaret Fraser, Christiana, 
is said to have been married to Sir James de Lindesay of Crawford; for 
Wyntoun relates how she was besieged in the castle of Fyvie by her nephew, 
Sir Eobert de Keith, in 1395, until relieved by her husband, who, gathering 
together four hundred men, defeated her assailant near Bourtry, killing fifty 
of his followers j 1 but the poet seems to have mistaken the name of the one 
or the other. 

The thanage of Arbuthnot was conferred upon John Fraser by King 
Eobert I., and it is probable that his daughter, Margaret, succeeded him in it ; 
but a family bearing that territorial surname had been Thanes of Arbuthnot 
for seven or eight generations previously. It is not unlikely that their repre- 

1 Wyntoun, Lib. IX. c. xvi. The contents of the Byres was the husband of Christian, 
the excambion of Dunnottar, quoted further daughter of the Marischal and Margaret 
on, prove that Sir William de Lindesay of Fraser, in 1392. 


sentative was an adherent of the Comyns, and at the destruction of that party 
in 1307-8, had forfeited the thanage, which the King bestowed upon his own 
nephew. A descendant, however, Philip de Arbuthnot, seems to have made 
his peace with King David n., and possibly asserted a right to the thanage. 

If this were so, the dispute was arranged by his marriage to Janet, a 
daughter of the Marischal and Margaret Fraser ; but he is said to have had 
no male issue by her, the Lords Arbuthnot being descended from his second 
marriage to Margaret, daughter of Sir James de Douglas of Dalkeith. 1 

The seal of Margaret Fraser is still extant, appended to a charter of 
excambion, entered into by her and her husband in 1392, with their son-in- 
law, Sir William de Lindesay of the Byres, and Christian de Keith, his wife. 
Sir William was the ancestor of the Lords Lindsay of the Byres and the Earls 
of Lindsay, who were so famous in the history of Scotland. By that contract 
of excambion Margaret Fraser and her husband exchanged the lands of 
Ugtrethrestrother (Struthers), Petyndreiche, and Wester Markinche for the 
castle and estate of Dunnottar. 2 

The seal of Margaret Fraser contains three separate shields, touching at 
the base points ; that in the centre is upright, and bears the six rosettes or 
cinquefoils, disposed 3 . 2 . 1, for Fraser; another, couche on the proper right, 
bears the arms of Keith Marischal, a chief paly of six ; and the third, couche' 
on the proper left, has a fess cheque' between 3 fleurs-de-lis, 2 and 1. 

The Fraser shield on this seal is the latest instance of six rosettes or 
cinquefoils disposed 3.2.1 representing that name, and in that generation 
the number was reduced to three, placed 2 . 1, as exemplified in the seal of 
Hugh Fraser of Lovat, 1377-90. 3 

There must have been a reason for this reduction, for in that age every- 
thing relating to armorial bearings was arranged with scrupulous care, and 
no one could make any important change in them without proper authority 
from the Crown, through the heralds or kings-at-arms. 

Among the marks of cadency in ancient use, Msbet gives diminishing the 
number of the figures, and, perhaps, there could not be a more expressive 
typical illustration of the failure of an eldest line in an heir-female, than 

1 Douglas Peerage, by Wood, vol. i. p. 78. 2 Original Excambion in Charter-chest of 

3 See Appendix. the Earl of Glasgow at Crawford Priory. 


that afforded by cutting off the figures in the chief of the shield, leaving 
those in the fess and base to be borne by the still existing junior branches. 

The shield of Sir James Fraser of Frendraught, in the year 1371, bore six 
rosettes or cinquefoils, 3 in chief, and 2 . 1 below a fess cheque, 1 but he was 
of the same generation as Margaret Fraser's father, and in the next genera- 
tion, that to which she belonged, James Fraser of Frendraught bore only 
three upon his shield in 1402 ; and Janet de Dunbar, Countess of Moray, in 
1454 quartered a fess cheque" between three rosettes or cinquefoils, as the 
arms of Fraser of Frendraught, in the shield on her seal. 

There is of course no possibility of verifying the statement, made by 
some early genealogists, that the Fraser insignia were originally azure, semee 
with cinquefoils argent, but, in that case, their disposition on a triangular 
shield would cause each line to be one less in number than that immediately 
above it, and the reduction of the number, accompanying the failure of the 
eldest line in Margaret Fraser, may suggest that, when a former eldest line 
failed in Simon Fraser's daughter Eda, about 1160-80, they may have been 
disposed; and if the row on the chief of the shield were then cut 
off, they would become 3 . 2 . 1, as borne by all of the race down to the next 
failure of the eldest line in a female, when they were reduced to three, dis- 
posed 2. 1, and the fact of this not having taken place at the time of the 
failure of the Oliver Castle branch, by the death of Sir Simon Fraser, filius, 
in 1306, leaving daughters only, 2 is an argument against that having been 
the senior line of the race. 

With regard to the third shield on the seal of Margaret Fraser, upon one 
point there can be no doubt ; the arms are not those of another husband ; 
for Margaret Fraser was assuredly the wife of Sir William de Keith, the 
Marischal, from 1351 to 1407 at the least. 

Although the keen heraldic eye of Nisbet failed to read the charges on 
the third shield of the seal of Margaret Fraser, and he left it as an entire 
blank in the engraving of the seal which is given in one of his works on 
heraldry, close inspection of the shield shows that it bears a fess cheque and 
three fleurs-dedis, two in chief and one in base. The seal must be con- 
sidered as Margaret Fraser's own, as that of her husband, the Marischal, had 
1 See Appendix. 2 Ibid. 


been also appended to the document. Although the seal of Sir William de 
Keith has been brokeu off, the tag to which it was originally attached still 
remains. The reading which gives the most satisfactory explanation of 
the three shields used by Margaret Fraser, is that they were those of herself, 
her husband, and her mother. The name or family of her mother is not 
known through any documentary evidence, but the arms on the third shield, 
if so considered, denote her to have been the offspring of an alliance between 
a Stewart and a member of a family bearing fleurs-de-lis, and taken in 
conjunction with her daughter's christian name of Margaret, and other cir- 
cumstances to be narrated, suggest a possible descent for her. 

In the Appendix will be found a short memoir of the Frasers of Fren- 
draught, in which it is shown that James Fraser, youngest brother of Sir 
Alexander Fraser, Margaret's grandfather, married the daughter and heiress 
of Sir John Stewart of Frendraught, who had supplanted the ancient family 
of Frendraught in that estate about the beginning of the fourteenth century, 
and whose wife may have been the heiress of that family. The Frasers of 
Frendraught carried the Stewart fess cheque 1 between their own rosettes or 
cinquefoils, six or three in number, and they also bore a wolf's head as a 
crest, and the old Frendraught arms were three wolves' heads. 

Some former connection by marriage must have existed between the 
Frasers and the Stewarts, though its nature is not traceable, as a dispensation 
had to be obtained in 1322 from Pope John xxii., for the marriage of James 
Fraser and Margaret Stewart of Frendraught, who were related within the 
prohibited degrees. Such close relationship often led to further alliances 
between families ; and it is not unlikely that Margaret Fraser's father may 
have married a younger daughter of Sir John Stewart of Frendraught, who, 
however, could scarcely have been full sister to Margaret Stewart, but may 
have been her half-sister by a second marriage of their father with a lady 
whose arms were fleurs-de-lis, and Margaret Fraser may have been named 
after her aunt, Margaret Stewart. 

The seal of Margaret Fraser, of which an engraving is given on page 89, 
bears an inscription which, although much defaced, can still be read " S. 
Margarete Freser." It is attached to the above-mentioned charter of ex- 
cambion of the lands of Ugtrethrestrother (Struthers), Wester Markinche, 


and other lands in the county of Fife, for the lands and the celebrated Castle 
of Dunnottar, the picturesque ruins of which are still an object of great 
interest on the rocky coast of the Mearns, in the parish bearing the name of 
the castle. The great family of Keith continued in possession of Dunnottar 
from its acquisition under that excambion in 1392, till their forfeiture in the 
year 1716. Dunnottar was subsequently acquired by purchase by a cadet of 
the Keiths, and it remained with him and his descendants till within the last 
few years, when the castle and lands were sold by Sir Patrick Keith Murray 
of Ochtertyre, Bart. As the excambion by which the Keiths acquired 
Dunnottar is of some historical interest, an abstract of it is here given. 

William of Keith, Marischal of Scotland, and Margaret [Fraser] his 
spouse, with joint consent and assent, after full consideration of their com- 
mon weal and that of their heirs, "rant and confirm to Sir William of 
Lyndesay, Knight, and their well-beloved daughter, Christian [Keith], his 
spouse, and the longer liver of them, and to the lawful heirs of their bodies ; 
whom failing, to the heirs and assignees of Sir William Lyndesay, the 
lands of Ochtirothirstruthir, of Wester Markynch, of Petyndreich, with eight 
pounds annualrent out of the lands of Dunotyr with the castle thereof, in 
excambion for the lands of Dunotyr and the castle, with all their right perti- 
nents, as in their charters made thereupon : And in case it should happen that 
William of Keith, or Margaret his spouse, or any of their heirs, successors, or 
assignees should gainstand the premises in whole or in part, or come in the 
contrary thereof by word or deed, they bind themselves in the sum of one 
thousand pounds sterling money of Scotland, to be paid to Sir William 
Lyndesay and Christian his spouse, and the heirs of their bodies ; whom 
failing, to their heirs and assignees whomsoever, without any gainsaying 
or exception, in name of skaith and expenses ; and further, in the sum of 
one thousand pounds sterling, in name of penalty, to be proportionally paid 
to the fabric of the kirks of St. Andrews, Aberdeen, and Glasgow, before they 
be heard before any judge, spiritual or secular, in plea or complaint anent 
the premises : With a clause of warrandice in the usual terms : Eenouncing 
for themselves and their heirs all remedy of law, canon and civil, in the con- 
trary of the premises : And for greater faith, Margaret [Fraser], touching the 
holy evangels, gave her bodily oath not to come at any time in contrary of 


the premises. They also bind and oblige themselves to surrender of new, at 
any future time, all charters and evidents of these lands ; to grant infeftment 
therein and fulfil all other things needful for security : For the observance 
of all which they bind themselves by oath, their heirs and executors, and all 
their goods, moveable and immoveable, their lands and tenements, to be dis- 
trained, taken, poinded, and led away, at the will of Sir William Lyndesay 
and Christian his spouse, without license of any judge, to be possessed or 
sold till satisfaction be made. In witness of all which they caused their 
seals to be appended at Fetheresso, the eighth day of the month of March 

The observations upon the subject of these seals would not be complete 
without adverting to what Mr. Anderson says respecting the proper armorial 
bearings of the Frasers of Lovat. 

In a note to pages 47 and 48 of his work, 1 he refers to and quotes from 
the MS. Index of Matriculations of Arms " in the Lyon Eecords, written partly 
by Eobert Porteous, Snaddoun Herald, and Joseph Stacey, Eoss Herald," 
before 1663-4, giving the following extracts; and he further alludes to the 
arms of Lord Lovat, as described in the MS., having been illuminated by John 
Sawers, herald painter, before 1654, and places a copy of that drawing as the 
frontispiece of his w r ork. 

" Fraisek Lord Lovat, 

" Beirs 2 . coats first fraiser : azure 5 . frays alias strawberrey leves a lacing 1 ' 
argent : Secondly ; argent three antiant crowns . Gules : supported be 2 buks 
sceant eatch in ane hollin bush proper. Crist : a buks head errashe : or : 
armed wyt 6 tyues azure. Motto — I am readi." 

1 History of the Family of Fraser. 
. M 


" 37, Fraser Lord Fraser of old az : 5 fraes strawberrey leves salterwayes, 
2.1.2. argent. 38, Fraser of Lovat, the same. 39, Fraser of Mucehall, 
quarterlie, 1 Fraser, 2 argent, a lyon sable. 40, Fraser of Phillorth, quarterly, 
1 azure, 3 fraes, argent gules, a lyon rampant argent." ' 

Mr. Anderson follows these extracts with an argument, which need not 
be repeated here, if it be shown that the premises on which it is based, the 
above statements of the heralds of 1663, are fallacious. 

Who these heralds imagined to have been the person they called " Lord 
Fraser of old " will be found below ; but the earliest seals of the race extant, 
those of William Fraser, Bishop of St. Andrews, 1279 to 1297, Sir Pdchard 
Fraser, before 1276 and in 1297, Sir Andrew Fraser, 1297, Sir Simon Fraser, 
films, 1297, Sir Alexander Fraser, 1320, Sir James Fraser, 1371, and Margaret 
Fraser, 1392, all show the rosettes or cinquefoils, six in number, disposed in 
the shield 3.2.1, and upon the seal of a William Fraser, 1296, they are still 
six in number, although not on a shield, and the three-pointed label on 
which they are placed forces their disposition to be two on each point. 2 

It is evident that the heralds of 1663 knew nothing of these seals, and 
from the mis-spelling of the name, " Fraiser," and the mention of " frays," and 
" fraes," if they themselves were not the inventors of the punning derivation 
of the name, it had been at all events suggested by that time and accepted 
by them, and it is not difficult to discover the source from whence they took 
the five " fraes " placed " salterwayes." 

One of the daughters and co-heiresses of Sir Simon Fraser, filius, executed 
by order of Edward I. in 1306, married Sir Gilbert de Hay of Locherwart, and 
their descendants, the Lords of Yester (now Marquis of Tweeddale), quartered 
the rosettes or cinquefoils of Fraser in consequence of that alliance. They 
appear to have done this by placing five of them saltireways, at all events, 
in the upper quarter, though the shape of the shield in the earlier Yester 
seals prevented their being so placed in the lower quarter, and four are found 
there, or three, though not disposed 2 . 1, as may be seen in Mr. Laing's first 
vol. of Scottish Seals, where plates of those of John, second Lord Hay of 
Yester, 1513, and John, fourth Lord Hay of Yester, 1556, show that arrange- 

1 These extracts are strictly copied from Mr. Anderson's work. 

2 See Appendix. 


ment; but in 1564, William, fifth Lord Hay of Yester, adopted a form of 
shield broader at the base upon his seal, and then the five rosettes or cinque- 
foils, placed saltireways, are found in both the first and fourth quarters. 1 

The Hays of Tallo, in the barony of Oliver Castle, a junior branch of the 
Tweeddale family, adopted four, disposed 2 . 2 ., 2 and in the second and third 
quarters of the shield, on a seal of John, Earl of Wigton and Lord Fleming, 
in 1644 — the descendant of the Sir Patrick Fleming that married the other 
daughter and co-heiress of Sir Simon Fraser, filius — six rosettes or cinquefoils 
are found, but they are disposed 2 . 2 . 2. 3 All of these various dispositions 
by the posterity of Sir Simon Fraser, filius, effectually difference their bearings 
from the Fraser coat of arms, either before or after the reduction from six, 
3.2.1, to three, 2. 1. 

It can scarcely be doubted that the heralds of the seventeenth century, in 
their ignorance of the ancient bearings of the family, imagined that the 
disposition found in the arms of the Lords of Yester was that used by Sir 
Simon Fraser, filius, whom they chose to style " Lord Fraser of old ;" and 
that this error, coupled with the absurd punning derivation of the name, led 
them into the utterly fallacious heraldry recorded in the above extracts, 
which Mr. Anderson did not possess sufficient acquaintance with the subject 
to detect, but which has been long rejected by the Lords Lovat, who bear 
the three rosettes or cinquefoils, placed 2.1, of their ancestor Hugh Fraser. 

1 Laing's Scottish Seals, vol. i. Plate 28, 2 Laing's Scottish Seals, vol. i. p. 223, 

Nos. 2, 5, 8 ; pp. 224, 225, Nos. 1225, 1228, No. 1223. 
1230. 3 Ibid. vol. ii. p. 63, No. 367. 




TN the preceding pages the eldest male line of the family of Touch-fraser 
and Cowie has been followed to its extinction by the marriage of Margaret 
Fraser, granddaughter and heiress of Sir Alexander Eraser, the Chamberlain 
(as he may be styled, to distinguish him from others of the same name), to 
Sir William de Keith, the Marischal ; and the greater part of her grandfather's 
extensive estates are seen to have passed with her into that powerful family, 
to be eventually partitioned between the Earls Marischal, the Earls of 
Huntly, and the Setons of Touch-fraser. Upon this failure in an heir- 
female the representation of the male line of the Chamberlain reverted to 
the descendants of his second son, 

SIR WILLIAM FRASER of Cowie and Ditrris, who married 
MARGARET MORAY, daughter of Sir Andrew Moray of Bothwell. 

As, however, one author has disputed the generally admitted fact that this 
William Fraser was a son of Sir Alexander Fraser, the Chamberlain, and has 
endeavoured to suggest a different parentage for him, it may be as well to 
dispose of his objections and suggestions before proceeding further. 

This author is Mr. Anderson, and in his "Historical Account of the 
Family of Fraser," 1 he has brought forward a specious argument in support 
of his view, which, to a person unacquainted with the documents referred 
1 History of the Family of Fraser, page 38, note. 


to, who took his statements upon trust, might have a plausible appearance. 
The whole passage is therefore quoted here for the purpose of inquiring how 
far it is borne out by fact : 

" Sir Alexander Fraser, knight, the Chamberlain, having been only married to 
the widow of Sir Neil Campbell about 1316, and his line having terminated in a 
female descendant, who inherited all his estates, and carried them into other families, 
it is surprising that our peerage- writers should have confounded him with an 
Alexander Fraser of Cowie and Durris, the undoubted male ancestor of the 
ancient and respectable family of Philorth. To expose the fallacy of this opinion 
requires but a very few remarks. It has always been admitted by every one, and 
cannot be disputed, that this very ancient line of the Frasers is descended from 
William, son of an Alexander Fraser (evidently the latter Alexander), who 
flourished principally during the early part of the 14th century, and succeeded 
to his father as proprietor of the estates of Cowie and Durris. This is further 
apparent from the title of a missing charter of David II. in Robertson's Index, 
containing a grant to William of the lands of Durris, but more especially of 
Collie, ' whilk thanedom of Collie ' (it is added) ' was Alexander Fraser his 
father's'" (sic). 

" Here it cannot escape observation, that Alexander of Collie is not, even after 
his death, termed knight, a title which, as has been proved, Sir Alexander the 
Chamberlain held from 1308, and continued to enjoy ever afterwards. But 
independently of this striking fact, there is the evident failure of the male line 
of the Chamberlain before 1355, and the impracticability of instructing that he 
ever possessed the estate of Collie or Cowie. Besides it may be added that there 
is explicit proof by Bagman's Roll" (sic), "that on the 7th July 1296 'William 
Fraser, the son of the late Alexander Fraser,' swore fealty to Edward I. among 
the barons of the neighbourhood, at Fernel, Forfarshire, contiguous to the quarter 
of Scotland where the family estates were situated. Alexander Fraser, therefore, 
ancestor of the house of Philorth, for such the latter Alexander must be presumed 
to be, was dead long before the period when the Chamberlain commenced his 
career, and obviously was a different person from him." 

With the exception of some complimentary allusions to the family of 
Philorth, which need not be repeated here, the above is Mr. Anderson's 
argument, but some parts of it appear to have no real bearing upon the 
question at issue, for instance whether the Chamberlain was a Knight as 
early as 1308, or did not attain to that dignity until after 1312; the fact 
that a William Fraser, son of an Alexander Fraser, happened to be at 


Fernel, in Forfarshire, when he swore fealty to Edward I. in 1296 (without 
anything appearing in the document to connect him with that district, and 
not "among the barons of the neighbourhood," as Mr. Anderson says), and 
the failure of the Chamberlain's eldest male line in a female, of which 
there can be no doubt, but which does not disprove the existence of a second 
male line ; and when these are eliminated the argument appears to be based 
on the three following statements, which it is trusted are here fairly extracted 
from the above quoted passage : — 

1st, That the Alexander Fraser who had a son named William, and was 
dead before the 7th July 1296, was the proprietor of the estates of Cowie 
and Durris, and that his son William succeeded him in those estates. 

2d, That the omission of the title of Knight, even after death, in Eobertson's 
Index, shows that Alexander Fraser of Cowie was not the same person as Sir 
Alexander Fraser the Chamberlain. 

3d, That it is impracticable to instruct that Sir Alexander Fraser the 
Chamberlain ever possessed the estate of Cowie. 

If, in contradiction of these statements, it can be shown by good 
evidence — 

1st, That it is impossible that the Alexander Fraser, dead before 1296, 
could have possessed Cowie and Durris, or his son William have succeeded 
him in those estates ; 

2d, That the omission of the title of Knight in Robertson's Index, even 
after death, is of no importance. 

3d, That it is not impracticable to instruct that Sir Alexander Fraser 
the Chamberlain did possess the estate of Cowie, the refutation of Mr. 
Anderson's argument would appear to be complete, and to this the following 
observations are directed — 

1st, Mr. Anderson's assertion that the Alexander Fraser, dead before 
1296, possessed Cowie and Durris, rests entirely upon his ipse dixit; he 
adduces no authority for it ; and it may here be mentioned that no document 
of any sort has been found in existence or upon record, giving even the 
slightest hint that any person of the name of Fraser held lands in that 
district or neighbourhood before 1309. 

The forfeiture of Durris by John Comyn, Earl of Buchan, is upon record 


in Robertson's Index, 1 and this certainly did not take place before the 
accession of Robert I. to the throne in 1306, and probably not before the 
destruction of the power of the Comyn family iii 1308. 

The keepership of the forest of Cowie, and that of the forest of Durris, were 
held by the Comyns, as is proved by the mandate of Edward I., mentioning 
the Earl of Buchan in that capacity in 1 292 ; 2 and it is not probable that they 
lost the former before the latter, nor either until their overthrow in 1308. 

But the forest and thanage of Cowie were granted to an Alexander Fraser 
by Robert I. in 1327. 3 

It is impossible that the Alexander Fraser, dead before 1296, could have 
been proprietor of Durris, which was not forfeited by the Earl of Buchan 
until 1308, and it is also impossible that he could have been the person of 
that name who obtained the charters of Cowie from Robert I. in 1327, and it 
is evident from this that he did not possess those estates, and that his son 
William could not have succeeded him in them. 

2cZ, With regard to the omission of the title of Knight, even after death, 
which might have been of weight had it applied to a name in the body of a 
charter, it may be pointed out that in Robertson's Index, a list of the titles 
of ancient charters, many no longer extant, where the omission occurs, the 
designation of Knight, attached to any name, is very exceptional ; and that 
by Mr. Anderson's reasoning most of the individuals mentioned in that 
Index, who were knights, would be deprived of that rank, and among them 
the Chamberlain himself, for in the titles of his charters of Auchincarnie 
and of the forest of Craigie in the thanage of Cowie, elsewhere called the 
forest of Cowie, he is not styled Knight, although that designation is bestowed 
upon him in the charters themselves, of which copies are still extant. 4 

This shows that the omission upon which Mr. Anderson lays so much 
stress is utterly unimportant ; but a rather curious evidence of his not having 
gone very deeply into the subject is found in the fact, entirely overlooked by 
him, that the Alexander Fraser, dead before 1296, was also a knight ; he is 

1 Robertson's Index, p. GS, No. S. Library, Edinburgh, vol. ii. p. 63, last divi- 

- Rotuli Scotire, vol. i. p. 10. .' , , T , 

* Robertsons Index, p. 1/, Nos. ol-55. 

3 Robertson's Index, pp. 17, 18, Nos. 55- Haddington Collection mss., Advocates' Lib- 

61. Haddington Collection MSS. : Advocates' rary, vol. ii. p. 63,'last division. 


so designated in his son Bernard's agreement with John de Lambyrton, on 
the Sunday after St. Matthew's day, 1295, at which date he was dead, 1 and 
he is also found as a witness with that rank before 1268 ; 2 so that, if the 
argument on the omission of the title of Knight in Eobertson's Index were 
worth anything, it would apply as forcibly to this Alexander as to the 

3d, It is difficult to understand how Mr. Anderson could venture to assert 
the " impracticability of instructing that " the Chamberlain " ever possessed 
the estate of Cowie," for it is evident that he had consulted Eobertson's 
Index, aud the Haddington Collection, both of which authorities he quotes 
at page 37 of his work, in proof of charters granted to Sir Alexander Fraser 
the Chamberlain, especially that of Auchincarnie, and yet he says nothing of 
the charter of the forest of Craigie, in the thanage of Cowie, granted to the 
same Sir Alexander Fraser, as is proved by the tenor of the document, which 
is also in the Haddington Collection ; nor does he notice the titles, in 
Eobertson's Index, of that charter, and of another of the thanage of Cowie, to 
Alexander Fraser, although they are both in the same roll of the Index with 
that of Auchincarnie, which he does mention, and the three are numbered 
respectively 51, 55, and 61, and the suppression of evidence, so adverse to 
his argument, with which he must certainly have been acquainted, throws 
grave suspicion upon his good faith as an historian, and with the refutation 
of the two other statements on which his argument is based, effectually dis- 
poses of it. 

To return, however, to the question of the Chamberlain's having possessed 

In the account of his life it has been already noticed that, towards the 
close of the thirteenth century, there were three members of the race in 
existence bearing the name of " Alexander." 

Of the above three persons, two were considerably older than the third, 
and it is shown in the foregoing remarks that one, the Sir Alexander Fraser, 
father of the William Fraser who swore fealty to Edward I. in 1296, died in 
or before 1295, and could not have possessed Cowie in 1327. It has been 
also shown that a second Sir Alexander Fraser was a Baron and Knight, 

1 Cart. Glasgow, No. 251. 2 Reg. Hon. de Morton, vol. ii. No. 7- 


"Miles," in 1296, that in all probability he was made prisoner at the battle 
of Methven, and was the person whose lands of Cornetoun were demanded by 
John de Luc in 1306 ; that he probably perished in that year, at all events, that 
there is no further mention of him to be found during the reign of Eobert I. ; 
but he, by his having been a Knight in 1296, is distinctly marked as a different 
individual from the third Alexander Fraser, who is shown, in the account 
of his career, to have been the son of Sir Andrew Fraser, and not to have 
attained to the rank of Knight until after 1312, and whose identity with the 
brother-in-law of Eobert I., Chamberlain of Scotland from 1319 to 1325, is 
completely established by his granddaughter having succeeded to possessions 
held by him in both capacities, viz., Ugtrethrestrother, as heir of Sir Andrew, 
and the forest of Cowie granted to him by the king. 

The contents of the charter prove that it was the brother-in-law of 
Eobert I., Sir Alexander Fraser, that obtained the grant of the forest of Craigie 
in the thanage of Cowie, for his son John is called the King's nephew in the 
charter, which is dated April 6th, 1327, 1 and it is impossible to doubt that it 
was the same Sir Alexander Fraser who also received the charter of the 
thanage of Cowie and Craigining Glasculloche about the same time ; 2 and it 
is evident that the William Fraser who received from David n. a charter of 
the thanage of Cowie, which had belonged to Alexander Fraser, his father, 
must have been the son of the individual to whom it was given in 1327. 

In Eobertson's Index the title of the charter from David II. to William 
Fraser runs thus, — " To William Fraser, and Margaret Murray, his spouse, of 
the thanedom of Durris and thanedom of Collie, whilk thanedorn of Collie 
was Alexander Fraser's, his father, with the lands of Eskyltuh in Kincardine." 3 

The particular notice of the thanage of Collie (Ccwie), having been 
Alexander Fraser's property, which may have been taken from some expres- 
sion in the charter itself, would lead to the inference that the thanage of 

1 Haddington Collection mss., Advocates' forrest of Colly, the forrest called the Forrest 

Library, Edinburgh, vol. ii. p. 63, last divi- of the Month, the lands of Ferachy, Glasto-_ djlassl&w 

sion. lach (Glasculloche ?), Cragy, Clochnahule, 

2 In the reign of Robert n., Robert de whilk of old was of the thanedom of Colly, 
Keith, second son of Sir William de Keith, the and vicecom. Kincardin." — Robertson's Index, 
Marisehal, and Margaret Fraser, got a charter p. 117, No. 72. 

(evidently upon the resignation of his parents 

in his favour) of lands thus described, — "the 3 Robertson's Index, p. 60, No. 14. 


Durris had not belonged to him, and this agrees with what is known of the 
Chamberlain's possessions, for Durris is not found among them, and the 
wording of the passage is also suited to William Fraser 's position as a second 
son, for he is not termed heir to his father. 

After this somewhat long but necessary digression to prove the parentage 
of William Fraser, the account of what is known concerning him may be 
proceeded with. 

His father having married Lady Mary de Bruce about the year 1316, and 
there having been an elder son of the union, the birth of William Fraser 
cannot be placed at an earlier date than 1318, and he would have attained to an 
age for commencing an active military career about 1334 ; but his acquaint- 
ance with the hardships and perils of a soldier's life was probably hastened 
by the misfortunes that had overtaken his country and his family, and as, in 
those days, boys often accompanied their parents or relatives to the field of 
battle when very young, he may even have witnessed the rout at Dupplin, 
and the disastrous conflict at Halidon Hill, during the two preceding years, 
though debarred by youth from being more than a spectator of those fatal 

He seems, however, to have joined the brave Sir Andrew Moray, Sir 
William de Douglas, and the other leaders that maintained the long struggle 
against English domination, probably served under the command of the first 
of these during his campaigns from 1334 to 1337, and, after that leader's 
death in 1338, appears to have joined Sir William de Douglas, with whom he 
is found associated in the surprise and capture of Edinburgh Castle, on the 
17th of April 1341. 1 

Sir William Bullock, of whom the chronicler says, " ceteros suo tempore 
ingenio prascellebat," effected an arrangement between Walter Currie, the 

1 Fordvm, Gesta Annalia, cap. clx. ; Scoti- "Gualterus," being mentioned in the same 

chronicon, lib. xiii. cap. xlvii. ; Wyntoun, sentence, suggests how this error originated, 

lib. viii. cap. xxxviii. The authority of Froissart or Boethius is 

Froissart calls the Fraser that participated not of the same weight as that of Fordim in 
in the capture of Edinburgh Castle "Simon," his Gesta Annalia, Bowyer in the Scotl- 
and Buchanan has followed him in this. chronicon, and Wyntoun in his Metrical 
Boethius, who is copied by Major, makes the Chrouicle, who all join in calling him Wil- 
name " Walter," but the fact of two persons liam. 
called "Guilehnus" {sic), and two named 


master of a vessel then lying at Dundee, and the Scottish leaders, Sir 
William de Douglas, William Eraser, and Joachim de Kynbuk, for their 
passage, with two hundred chosen men, to the Island of Inchkeith in the 
Firth of Forth, and his assistance in their subsequent operations. 

Upon arriving there Walter Currie, who seems to have been a resolute 
and intelligent man, accompanied by one servant, visited the Governor of 
Edinburgh Castle towards evening, pretending to be an English merchant 
that had a cargo of excellent wine, ale, and other provisions for sale. He 
confirmed his story by producing two flasks, one of wine, the other of ale, 
carried by his servant, and, persuading the Governor to taste their contents, 
promised early next morning to bring him a barrel of each, with two cases of 
biscuit prepared with spices, on condition of receiving permission to dispose 
of the remainder of his merchandise. 

The Governor willingly agreed to this proposal, and gave orders that when 
Currie should arrive next morning with the present, the gates were to be 
opened for him. 

Sir William de Douglas placed his forces in ambush near the Castle gates 
that night, and very early in the morning Walter Currie, with twelve selected 
companions, disguised in sailors' clothing over their armour, and each haviDg 
a stout staff in his hand, approached the castle openly, leading two horses 
laden with cases and barrels filled with water, and entering it by the great 
gate, thrown open for them according to the Governor's orders, they imme- 
diately slew the porter and his two assistants, placed a strong stake, provided 
for the purpose by Currie, under the portcullis, to prevent it being lowered, 
and throwing the boxes and barrels into the entrance of a tower close at 
hand, called the "Turnipyk," blew a loud blast on a horn, the signal to 
Douglas, who, on hearing it, broke from his ambush, and hastened to their 

The English, alarmed at the noise, also hurried from all parts of the Castle 
to the gate, where a furious fight ensued, but Currie and his comrades 
gallantly held their ground until Douglas and his men arriving, the garrison 
were all put to the sword or forced over the ramparts, and the Castle was 

Upon the death of the brave and wise Sir Andrew Moray in 1338, Eobert 


Stewart (afterwards Bobert n.), grandson of Bobert i., succeeded him as 
Guardian of the Kingdom, and his efforts, with those of his loyal comrades, 
had proved so far successful in 1341, that a great part of the country was 
again freed from English rule, and the young King, David n., with his 
Queen, was enabled to return from France, and landed at Inverbervie, in 
Kincardineshire, on the 2d of June in that year. 1 

The King is said to have held his Court at Perth soon after his arrival 
in his own country, and there to have bestowed lands and other rewards 
upon those who had signalised themselves in his service, or whose parents 
had lost their lives at Dupplin, Halidon Hill, or in other conflicts, during 
the nine years of incessant warfare that had elapsed since Edward de Baliol's 
successful invasion in 1332. 2 

William Fraser, whose merit under either of these categories was so 
conspicuous, obtained a grant of the thanages of Durris and Cowie, with the 
lands of Eskyltuh, Essintuly, in Kincardine, but unfortunately the' charter, 
by which these possessions were conferred upon him and his wife, is one of 
those no longer extant, or at all events still undiscovered, and the title of 
it in Bobertson's Index is all that remains on record. 3 

He also received by a royal order in 1342 an assignation or gift of 
£13, 6s. 8d., a considerable sum at that time, from the rents of the lands of 
AnaucE, 4 which may have been situated on the banks of the Annack water, 
that passes by Stewarton, in Cunningham, and falls into the Irvine river. 

Margaret Murray or Moray, who is mentioned as "William Fraser's wife 
in the title of the charter of Durris and Cowie, appears to have been a 
daughter of the illustrious Sir Andrew Moray. In order, however, to avoid 
needless repetition, the reader is referred to the account given of her son, 
Sir Alexander Fraser, where the facts that seem to warrant this parentage 
being assigned to her will be found. 

She is mentioned in Bobertson's Index in close proximity to John Moray, 
Sir Andrew's eldest son, as receiving various grants and pensions for the 
term of her life, 5 and in the Chamberlain Bolls appears a notice of the 

1 Fordun, Gesta Aimalia, cap. clx. 4 Chamberlain Rolls, vol. i. p. 280. 

2 Boethius. 5 Robertson's Index, p. 37, Nos. 10, 13, 

3 Robertson's Index, p. 60, No. 14. 14, 16. 


remission in her favour, of a contribution due to the Crown from her pro- 
perty, at the same time that a payment of money to John Moray is recorded. 1 

She survived her husband William Fraser many years, for in 1360 an 
entry in the Chamberlain Rolls shows her in receipt of a pension from the 
lands of the thanage of Cowie. 2 

In 1392 Robert de Caldwell, dominus de Todrig, caused a copy to be 
made of a former charter from Margaret de Moravia, granting him her lands 
of Aynachil, . . . de Unthank "in dominio de Robertone in baronia de 
Conynghame, infra Vic. de Are ;" 3 and as in the loose orthography of those 
days Aynachil and AnaucK might easily mean the same place, it is at least 
probable that William Fraser received his gift of money from the lands of 
AnaucK in right of his wife. 

It may have been from the hand of his Sovereign, when the two 
thanages were bestowed upon him, that William Fraser received the honour 
of knighthood, to which rank the record of his death and the mention of 
his name in a charter to one of his sons show that he attained. 

In all probability he served in the earlier expeditions of David IL into 
the northern counties of England, but his career, though active and useful, 
and giving promise of eminence, was not destined to rival that of his father 
in length, for in 1346 the king resolved once more to invade that country, 
influenced by the request of the King of France, and under the impression 
that many of the best warriors of England being engaged with Edward in. 
in the siege of Calais, the kingdom was left comparatively defenceless, and 
Sir William Fraser, as in duty bound, joined his standard. 

As Wyntoun relates, the King assembled his forces at Perth, but, in 
consequence of the murder of Ronald, Lord of the Isles, by the Earl of Ross, 
and the quarrels engendered by the commission of that crime, great numbers 
deserted from him. 4 

However, undeterred by the diminution of his army, David marched to 
the border, and after taking the peel or small castle of Liddel, advanced into 
England in spite of the wise advice of Sir William de Douglas, who counselled 
retreat, and penetrated as far as Durham. 

1 Chamberlain Rolls, vol. i. p. 280. 3 Reg. Hon. de Morton, vol. ii. p. 1S6, No. 107. 

2 Ibid. p. 3S0. 4 Wyntoun, lib. viii. cap. xl. 



In the meantime the Archbishop of York, with Lord Percy and other 
nobles, had assembled the power of the country north of the river Trent, 
and had so well concealed their measures that the Scottish army had no 
notice of their approach until they surprised and defeated Douglas when on 
a foraging excursion ; he, however, escaped and brought the intelligence to 
the King, who immediately set his troops in battle array, divided into 
three "escheles" or large divisions, of which he himself commanded one, 
the Earl of Moray and Sir William de Douglas another, and Eobert Stewart 
of Scotland the third, which was considerably the largest. 

It is a proof of how little the experience of one generation benefits the 
next, that the advice and offer of the gallant Sir John de Grahame to charge 
the English archers with cavalry, a plan that Eobert I. had so successfully 
adopted at Bannockburn, was altogether rejected, and this mistake, combined 
with a faulty choice of ground, resulted in the complete defeat of the royal 
army after a long and desperate battle, in which David II. was taken prisoner 
with many of his nobles and followers ; and Sir William Eraser, with the 
Earl of Moray, Sir David de Hay the Constable, Sir Eobert de Keith the 
Marischal of Scotland, Sir David de Lindesay, and many more, were slain. 1 

Crauford thinks it probable that Sir William Fraser was not killed at the 
battle of Durham, but taken prisoner, and bases his opinion upon the fact of 
a William Fraser afterwards getting a safe-conduct to pass through England 
on his way beyond sea, 2 but investigation shows that this is not a good 
foundation for his conjecture. A person of the name did get a safe-conduct 
in 1365, and again in 1374, 3 but in the latter of these he is styled Armiger, 
or Squire, and could not be the same as William Fraser, Miles, mentioned 
in the Scotichronicon, or the deceased William Fraser, Miles, whose name is 
found in a charter to his son John Fraser, from Eobert n., in 1373. 

Crauford also says that Margaret Moray was his second wife, and that 
he had been previously married to a lady of the house of Douglas, and, as 
authority for this, notices a charter of a fourscore merk land in Aberdour, 
given as a marriage portion with that lady, which he had seen in the inventory 
of the writs of the Saltoun family, but he is totally in error in this state- 

1 Scotichronicon, lib. xiv. cap. iii. 2 Lives of Officers of State, p. 277. 

3 Eotuli Scotise, vol. i. pp. 893, 966. 


ment, and must have misapprehended the document, which is still extant. 1 
The fourscore merk land in Aberdour was granted not to Sir William Fraser, 
but to his son Sir Alexander, and was not mentioned as any lady's marriage 
portion, and there is not the slightest evidence of any such connection with 
the house of Douglas until the marriage, about the beginning of the next 
century, of Sir William's grandson, also a William, with a lady of that name, 
from which Crauford's mistake probably arose. 

Sir William Fraser left two sons — 

Alexander, who succeeded him in Cowie and Durris. 

John, who is mentioned in a charter of the lands of Wester Essintuly, in 
the thanage of Durris, granted to him by Eobert II. in 1373, as filio quondam 
Willelmi Fraser, "Militis," 2 and was the first of the family of Forglen and 
Ardendracht. 3 

SIE ALEXANDER FRASER of Cowie and Durris, and First of Philorth. 
LADY JOHANNA DE ROSS, Daughter of William Earl of Ross. 

This Alexander Fraser is the last in the series of whose parentage it is 
necessary to adduce circumstantial evidence, for the line of his descendants 
is sufficiently established by successive inquests, retours, and other registers ; 
and the following circumstances evince him to have been the son and heir of 
Sir William Fraser, of which any one by itself would suggest the probability, 
but the four, taken together, afford conclusive evidence. 

1. That he was a cousin or Hood-relation of David II. and Eobert II. 

2. That he succeeded to the thanages of Cowie and Durris about the 

time when, as a son of Sir William Fraser, he would have 
attained the age of twenty-one. 

3. That he had a younger brother, John Fraser, in 1376 and 1385, 

that a John Fraser was designated as a son of the late Sir 
William Fraser in 1373, and that this John appears in con- 
nection with the barony of Durris on two of these occasions. 

1 Philorth Charter-room. 3 Roll ii. of Great Seal Record, No. 17. 

3 See Appendix. Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iii. p. 355. 


4. That he was a cousin or blood-relation of the fourth Earl of 
Douglas, and James Douglas, Lord of Abercorn, but not of their 
father the third Earl, and that this relationship could only have 
arisen through their mother, Johanna or Jean Moray of Both- 
well, and Margaret Moray, Sir William Eraser's wife, having 
been related to each other. 
By the death of their father at the battle of Durham, in 1346, Alexander 
Fraser and his brother John were deprived of his protection at a very early 
age, and during their long minority they were probably wards of the Crown, 
and were doubtless also befriended by the Marischal, the Morays, the 
Douglases, and their other powerful relatives and connections. 

A statement by Crauford, that Alexander Fraser pursued his studies at 
the University of Oxford, 1 is of very doubtful authenticity ; such was not the 
course of education deemed most suitable for a youth of good family in that 
age, unless he were intended for the Church, and more of his hours would 
be passed in the tilt-yard or the hunting-field than in the chamber of study ; 
indeed, there were but few that could read or write. An Alexander Fraser 
did obtain safe-conducts to proceed to England in 1361 and 1363, but he was 
the person of whom some notice will be found in the Appendix. However, 
although the safe-conduct of 1366, to which Crauford alludes, was granted to 
a number of clerks or clergymen going to study at Oxford, the Alexander 
Fresille, whose name appears with theirs, was not designated as a cleric, and 
as he had a retinue of eight persons, while the prepositus of St. Andrews was 
accompanied by only six, 2 he was a person of some consequence, and Crauford 
may be right. 

The earliest documentary evidence extant respecting this Alexander 
Fraser, shows that he succeeded to Durris and Cowie, the two thanages that 
had been conferred upon Sir William Fraser by David n., and some remarks 
upon the thanages of Scotland, and the tenure by which they were held, may 
be permitted here, as their nature and origin have been the subject of discus- 
sion by various antiquaries. 

None, however, have so ably handled it as Mr. William Skene, in the 
Appendix to a recently published translation of Fordun's History, where he 
1 Lives of Officers of State, p. 278. 2 Rotuli Sootite, vol. i. p. 905. 


has clearly shown that, in the earliest time of which there is any knowledge, 
the " Tuath " or district in the possession of each Celtic tribe was held in the 
following manner : — " The Indfine, or commonalty of the Fine or Tribe, pos- 
sessed the tribe land. The arable land was distributed at stated intervals 
among the Ceile or free members of the tribe, each having their share, and 
a redistribution taking place as fresh claimants for a share appeared ; the 
pasture land was pastured in common, according to the number of 
cattle possessed by each, and the waste land separated each Tuath from 

" The Orba, or inheritance land, was possessed by the Flaith or nobles of ' 
the Fine as individual property," which descended in their families under 
peculiar laws. 

He then relates how "in Scotland proper, that is in the north-eastern 
lowlands, extending from the Forth to the Moray Firth," by the gradual change 
from Celtic to Saxon customs and institutions, and by the increasing power 
of the Crown, " the land possessed by the tribe communities came to be 
viewed as terra regis, or Crown land, and the King became the dominus or 
superior. The tribe land occupied by the commonalty was considered royal 
demesne, and the inheritance land became the Thanagium holding of the 
King," while he shows in another place that the chief of each tribe, "the 
Toiseeh, became the Thane." 

He also points out that " the waste land, where it existed, became the 
royal forest," and that the forest was sometimes separated from the thanage, 
and each severally dealt with by the sovereign : and, further on, he notices 
the gradual supersession of the ancient Celtic burdens on the land by those 
of feudal tenure, and, after the reign of Alexander in., when most of the 
thanages are found in the hands of the Crown, the change of them into hold- 
ings for military service, brought about by the constant conflict with England, 
and the succession of kings of the Norman race, which was generally followed 
by their conversion into baronies. 1 

For much "other interesting information on the subject the reader is 
referred to the work whence the above extracts have been taken, in the 

1 Historians of Scotland, Fordun ; translated by F. J. H. Skene, Appendix by W. F. Skene, 
p. 444 to p. 45G. 


concluding sentences of which it is satisfactory to see that Mr. Skene hopes 
to recur to the suhject at a future time ; but it may be here remarked that 
from the thanage having been the Orba or inheritance land of the nobles of 
the tribe, the residence of the chief must have been situated there, and it 
may reasonably be inferred that, after the change which brought the whole 
tribal possession into the hands of the Crown, such residence, when it was 
suitable for the purpose, would be converted into a royal castle or fortress, 
and placed in the custody of the person upon whom the thanage or orba was 
conferred, while the royal demesne, which had been the tribe land, was also 
granted to tenants holding direct from the Crown, and not as feudatories of 
the thanage ; and of this last-mentioned tenure an example is found in the 
charter of Wester Essintuly to John Fraser, the second son of Sir William 
Eraser, which recites that he was to pay the feu-duty, if demanded, at the 
Castle of Mount Durris (in the same manner as John de Dalgarnock, his 
predecessor in the lands, had been bound to do) to the King, not to Sir 
Alexander Fraser, although the latter was lord of the barony of Durris at the 

The latter part of this gradual alteration of tenure, as explained by Mr. 
Skene, is well exemplified in the case of the thanages of Cowie and Durris, 
for in that of Cowie Eobert I. appears dealing separately with the thanage 
and the forest, inasmuch as he gave a separate charter of each, though both 
were granted to the same person, Sir Alexander Fraser the Chamberlain, and 
in the next reign this separation is more distinctly marked, for Sir William 
de Keith the Marischal obtained the forest in right of his wife, the Chamber- 
lain's granddaughter and heiress, while the thanage was conferred by David II. 
upon William Fraser, the Chamberlain's second son. 

The charter of the forest of Cowie from Eobert I. to the Chamberlain and 
his son, John Fraser, in 1327, conveyed an hereditary right, for it was granted 
to them and their heirs-general ; but it is doubtful whether the Chamberlain 
held the thanage by a precisely similar destination, and it is very possible 
that a grant, which may have included the custody of a royal castle, would 
have been limited to heirs-male. From the charter being no longer extant, 
however, this point cannot be decided, but must be left to conjecture. 

The temporary supersession of all the grants, from Eobert I., in the north- 


east of Scotland, that followed Edward de Baliol's success in 1332, has thrown 
obscurity over many of the territorial arrangements of that part of the king- 
dom during the few succeeding years ; for the representatives of the Comyns 
and other exiled families resumed possession of their forfeited estates until 
again expelled, but it would appear that, when David II. returned to Scotland 
in 1341, the thanage of Cowie was held to have reverted to the Crown, or at 
least to have been in ward from the decease of the Chamberlain at the battle 
of Dupplin (a royal gift or assignation from its revenues was made to John 
de St. Clair in 1341-2), 1 and that it was granted anew to Sir William Praser, 
his second son, and nearest surviving male relative, while the forest passed 
to his granddaughter and heiress, and her husband, by the destination to 
heirs-general contained in the charter affecting it. 

Upon the early death of Sir William Fraser at the battle of Durham in 
1346, the thanage of Cowie and that of Dun-is, which he had also received, 
seem again to have been in the hands of the Crown, in ward, as the hereditary 
estates of his eldest son and heir, Alexander, during his minority ; there are 
found royal gifts or pensions from the revenues of that of Cowie to his 
mother Margaret de Moravia or Moray, and also to the Countess of Angus, 
in 1360 and 1362, 2 but these cease about the time when he would have 
attained to the age of twenty-one ; and he appears to have succeeded to both 
thanages a little before 1367, when, in a Parliament held at Scone in 
September, it was enacted that all lands of the royal demesne, with the 
reversions due from them, all rents, cane customs, forest offices, etc., should 
revert to David II. as fully and thoroughly as his father Eobert I. had 
possessed them at the time of his death ; and in a list made in the following 
January of certain sums collected, or to be collected, for the Crown in con- 
sequence of that Act of Parliament, xlix. libf. and xiij. libr. vi. s. viij. d. are 
said to have been recently in the hands of Alexander Praser, on account of 
the thanages of Cowie and Durris respectively. 3 

On the 4th of September 1369, David II. granted " dilecto consanguineo 
nostro Alexandra Praser " the whole royal lands of the thanage of Durris, 
erecting them into a free barony, to be held by him and his heirs from the 

1 Chamberlain Rolls, vol. i. p. 2S1. 3 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 

2 Ibid. pp. 377, 380, 396. vol. i. pp. 16S, 170. 


Crown for three attendances each year at the Head Court of the sheriffdom 
of Kincardine, and the service of an archer in the royal army. 1 Although 
the record of the transition of the thanage of Cowie into a barony in his 
favour is no longer extant, it probably occurred at this time, for he appears 
as lord of the barony of Cowie in 1376. 

He must have received the honour of knighthood about the same time 
that he obtained the charters of his baronies, for though not styled " Miles " 
in that of Durris, he bore the rank in the succeeding year but one at the 
coronation of Eobert II. ; and he was also appointed Vicecomes or Sheriff of 
Aberdeen, in which capacity his name first appears in the Chamberlain Bolls 
of 1369, 2 when Philip de Dunbreck made a payment as his lieutenant in 
that office. 

The term " consanguineus " (cousin), applied to him in the charter of 
Durris, was not at that time the mere title of courtesy used by the Sovereign 
to persons of a certain rank, that it became in a considerably later age, but 
actually meant what it expressed, blood-relationship, though in a more 
remote degree than uncle or nephew, of which there is abundant evidence in 
many royal charters, where the terms expressing various degrees of relation- 
ship, avus, pater, mater, filius, filia, patruus, avunculus, nepos, neptis, con- 
sanguineus, are found attached to the names of some persons, while those of 
others, often of the highest rank, who were not related by blood to the King, 
had no such designation, and although occasionally, but rarely, these terms 
were not attached to the names of those entitled to them, they were never 
misapplied to those of others. " Consanguineus " (cousin) correctly defines 
the relationship between David II. and Sir Alexander Fraser, arising from 
Lady Mary de Bruce having been the aunt of the former and grandmother of 
the latter ; and it has been shown in the account of Sir Alexander Fraser 

1 Copy of Charter, Appendix. The date of reign one short of the truth, making from 

this charter is the 4th of September in the 7th June 1357, to the same date 135S, the 

fortieth year of the King's reign, which would twenty-eighth year, whereas it really was the 

properly be 1368, but at page 39 of the pre- twenty-ninth, and consequently the fortieth 

face to the first vol. of the Acts of Parliament year of his reign as named in the charter, was 

of Scotland, the late Mr. Cosmo Innes has in reality the forty-first, or from 7th June 

shown that David n. after his return from his 1369 to 7th June 1370. 
English captivity, in all his charters and 2 Chamberlain Rolls, vol. i. p. 506. 

public instruments counted the years of his 


the Chamberlain that no blood-relationship could have existed between 
Robert I. and him. 

Sir Alexander was Sheriff of Aberdeen for nearly all the remainder of his 
life, certainly until the year 1399. 

On one or two occasions in 1382 John Fraser's name is found as Vice- 
comes of Aberdeen; 1 it is possible that during some temporary absence of 
Sir Alexander, his brother John might have held that appointment, but he 
himself appears as Vicecomes both before and after that date, and it may be 
a clerical error, for a John de Forbes acted as his lieutenant in 1374. 2 

As Vicecomes of Aberdeen Sir Alexander Fraser was a witness to a gift 
by William de Meldrum to the church of St. Nicholas at Aberdeen, and 
although in the Antiquities of the shires of Aberdeen and Banff, published 
by the Spalding Club, the date of this charter is stated to be 1342, 3 there is 
evidence in the document itself that this must be an error, for Alexander, 
Bishop of Aberdeen, and Sir William de Keith, the Marischal, were also 
witnesses to it, and no Bishop of -Aberdeen bore that name from the death 
of the first Alexander Kinuinmond, on the 14th of August 1340, to the 
succession of the second Alexander Kinuinmond in 1355, 4 while Sir William 
de Keith did not become Marischal until the death of his father, Sir Edward 
de Keith, who himself was not Marischal until after the battle of Durham in 
1346, where his grandnephew, Sir Robert de Keith, whom he succeeded, was 
killed; the correct date, therefore, must be later than 1355, and there is good 
reason for believing it to be 1372, for Sir Alexander Fraser is designated 
"Miles," or Knight, a rank that he will be seen to have held in 1371, at 
the coronation of Robert n., but probably had not obtained in 13G9, as he 
is not so styled in the charter of the barony of Durris, which he received 
in that year. 

David II., King of Scotland, died in February 1371, according to present 
computation of time, and was succeeded by Robert Stewart, who, though his 
nephew, was several years his senior, and had been guardian of the kingdom 
during his captivity in England, from 1346 to 1357. 

On the 26th of March 1371 Sir Alexander Fraser was one of the barons 

1 Reg. Episc. Aberd., vol. i. p. 142. 3 Antiquities of Aberdeen, vol. iii. p. 45.. 

2 Chamberlain Rolls, vol. ii. p. 73. 4 Reg. Epise. Aberd., vol. ii. p. 24S. 


that attended the coronation of Bobert II., and on the following day did 
homage to the King, and affirmed in Parliament the order of succession to 
the Crown; and two years later, on the 4th of April 1373, he attended 
another Parliament, where a second and more precise settlement of the 
succession was enacted ; and on both of these occasions his name immediately 
follows that of Sir James Praser of Prendraught, his father's first cousin, who 
was therefore of the generation preceding him, and probably his senior in 
knighthood. 1 

In 1375 Sir Alexander Praser married Johanna, second daughter of 
William, Pari of Eoss, whose elder daughter and heiress married Sir "Walter 
de Leslie, a younger son of Sir Andrew de Leslie, and his wife Mary, 
daughter and co-heiress of Sir Alexander de Abernethy. 

The earldom of Eoss was an ancient dignity. King Malcolm the Maiden 
addressed a precept in favour of the Abbey of Dunfermline to Malcolm, Pari 
of Eoss, in 1162 ; and Ferquhard, Pari of Eoss, appears between 1222 and 
1231, 2 and is said to have founded the Abbey of Fern. He was succeeded by 
his son, William, who, in 1258, confirmed his father's charter to the monks of 
Fern, 3 and was probably the Pari present at the Parliament held in 1283-4, 
to regulate the succession to the throne. His son, William, sat as Pari of Eoss 
in the Parliament at Brigham, in 1290, and was one of the auditors appointed 
on the part of Baliol at the competition for the Crown. 4 In 1306 he took 
part against Bobert I., and the Queen having fallen into his hands after she 
fled from Kildromie Castle, he surrendered her to the Bnglish authorities ; 5 but 
on the reconquest of the north of Scotland by Bruce in 1308, he submitted, and 
continued a faithful liegeman, having been a witness to the treaty between the 
King and Haco, King of Norway, in 13 12." He left two sons and a daughter. 

Hugh, his successor in the earldom. 

John, who married Margaret, daughter of the Pari of Buchan, and with 
her received a grant from the Crown of half the lands of that earldom, 7 which 
had been forfeited in 1308, but they had no issue. 

1 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 4 Ibid, quoting P^ynier's Fcedera. 
vol. i. pp. 181, 185. 5 Barbour's Bruce, p. 76. 

2 Douglas Peerage, quoting Cart. Dunferrn., 6 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. 
1S6. Ibid, quoting Cart. Morav., 314. i. p. 103. 

3 Ibid, quoting Cart. Morav., 312. 7 Piobertson's Index, p. 2, No. 44. 


Isabella, who was the wife of Sir Edward de Bruce, the King's brother. 

The eldest son, Hugh, Earl of Eoss, seems to have become possessed of 
the half of the earldom of Buchan on the decease of his brother John, for in 
1330 he renounced the advowson of the Church of Philorth, in that district, 
in favour of the Crown. 1 He commanded one of the divisions of the Scottish 
army at Halidon Hill, and fell in that battle after a long and desperate 
struggle. 2 He had no issue by his first wife, Jean, daughter of Walter Steward 
of Scotland ; but by his second, Lady Matilda de Bruce, sister of Bobert I., he 
had two, perhaps three, sons and two daughters. 3 

William, who succeeded him in the earldom. 

Hugh, generally known as Hugh of Barichies, to whom his father, or 
brother, appears to have given a considerable portion of the half of the 
earldom of Buchan. 

Euphemia, who married, first, John Bandolph, Earl of Moray, killed at 
the battle of Durham in 1346 ; and, secondly, Bobert Stewart, afterwards 
Bobert II., at whose accession she became Queen of Scotland. 

Janet, who married, first, Sir John de Monymusk ; and, secondly, Sir 
Alexander Moray of Abercairny. 

William, Earl of Eoss, joined the army assembled at Perth in 1346 by 
David II. for the invasion of England, but having slain Banald, Lord of the 
Isles, at Elihok (Elcbo), in that neighbourhood, he deserted with all his men, 
and retired to his own district of Boss, and his proceedings caused many 
others to abandon their sovereign's standard, and materially reduced his 
forces. 4 

He is said to have married a daughter of Malise, Earl of Strathearn, and 
by her had a son, William, who was nominated one of the hostages for the 
payment of the ransom of David n. in 1357, but was too ill at the time to 
proceed to England, 5 and seems to have died soon afterwards; and two 
daughters, Euphemia and Johanna. 

Euphemia, the elder of the two, before 1365, and apparently against the 
will of her father, married, as already mentioned, Sir Walter de Leslie, who 

1 Robertson's Index, p. 29, No. 22. Acts 4 Wyntoun, lib. viii. c. xl. 
of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. i. p. 153. 

2 Wyntoun, lib. viii. c. xxvii. 5 Rymer's Foedera, vol. v. p. 792 ; vol. vi. 

3 Ibid. lib. viii. c. vii. pp. 35-47. 


was in high favour with David n. ; and the king, who evidently remembered 
the Earl's crime and its consequences, not only countenanced their union, 
but took measures to prevent him from punishing his daughter's disobedience, 
and for that purpose compelled him to resign his whole earldom and posses- 
sions for reinfeftment. 

Upon his resignation at Perth on the 23d of October 1370, the King 
granted a charter of the whole earldom of Eoss, the lordship of Skye, and 
all the other lordships, lands, and pertinents within the kingdom that had 
belonged to the Earl before his resignation, with the exception of those within 
the sheriffdoms of Aberdeen, Dumfries, and Wigtown, first, to the Earl himself 
and the heirs-male of his body ; whom failing, secondly, to Sir "Walter de 
Leslie and Euphemia, his wife, or the survivor of them, and to the heirs of 
the body of Euphemia, with the proviso that if heirs-male should fail, 
then the eldest daughter, whether of Euphemia or her heirs, should take 
the whole earldom, lordships, lands, etc., granted by the charter, without 
division or partition in any way ; and shoidd the issue of Euphemia fail, 
then, thirdly, to Johanna, younger daughter of the Earl, and her heirs, with a 
similar proviso as to the succession of the eldest daughter, failing heirs-male. 1 

A " querimonia," or petition, is extant from the Earl of Eoss to Kobert II., 
complaining that his lands and those of his brother, Hugh de Eoss, in 
Buchan, had been taken from them by David II. without their having been 
cited, tried, and convicted of any offence, and that these lands had been 
bestowed by that king upon Sir Walter de Leslie. The querimonia, after 
detailing these and other grievances, affording a glimpse at the rough 
proceedings of the age, goes on to declare that the Earl only ratified this gift 
of his own, and his brother's, lands to Sir Walter under compulsion, and in 
fear of the anger of King David if he had refused to do so. He also 
complains that Sir Walter had married his daughter Euphemia against his 
will, and says that up to the death of the late king he had not made any 
concession of lands or goods to her, nor any agreement with her, except such 
as he was compelled to enter into by David II. 2 

1 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. i. * Philortk Charter- room. Antiquities of 

p. *177. Antiquities of Aberdeen, vol. ii. Aberdeen, vol. ii. p. 3S7. 
l>. 3S6. 


However, the " querimonia" appears to have had no effect, — perhaps it 
was considered a bad precedent to question the rights of the Crown, — and 
Sir Walter de Leslie, with his wife, Euphemia, after her father's death within 
the next two years, enjoyed the dignities and estates conferred by the charter 
in full right and peaceful possession, Sir Walter as Dominus de Eoss, and 
his wife as Countess. 

The lands in the sheriffdoms of Aberdeen, Dumfries, and Wigtown, taken 
by David II. from the Earl and his brother Hugh, were evidently the half of 
the earldom of Buchan that had been granted by Eobert I. to their uncle 
John on his marriage with Margaret de Comyn ; and on John's death without 
issue they seem to have come into the possession of their father, Hugh, Earl 
of Eoss, and so to have passed to them. 

The king would seem to have claimed these lands as properly reverting 
to the Crown, in consequence of the failure of John's issue, instead of to the 
Earl of Eoss ; and having enforced his claim, he granted them to Sir Walter 
de Leslie, who out of them, as will immediately appear, satisfied the claims 
of Johanna, as coheiress of the estates of the earldom of Eoss, without 
infringing the restrictions in the royal charter of 1370, which forbade 
partition between heirs-female. 

On the 4th June 1375 Sir Alexander Fraser and his wife, Johanna, 
received a charter from Sir Walter de Leslie, Dominus de Eoss, 1 of all the 
lands of Philorth, which are thus enumerated : " terras de Kirktoun, Cairn- 
builg, Inuerolochy, Ardglassey, Kinglasse cum molendino, Kinbog, Ardmakren, 
duos Brakours, Auchintuin, Auchmacludy, Braklawmoir, terras de maiore 
Drumquhendill et minore Drumquhendill, Auchinchogill, Plady, Loncardy, 
et Delgady, cum le Querell, terras de maiore Fintrie, Balchern, et Blak- 
toune," all within the sheriffdom of Aberdeen ; the lands of Ferdonald, in 
Eoss, with a pension of £80 sterling, in the sheriffdom of Inverness ; and 
the lands of the barony of Kregiltoun, with " quadraginta libras tenen- 
driarum," in Galloway (Sir Walter reserving to himself, and his wife 
Euphemia, the castle of Kregiltoun, " cum residuo tenendriarum"), to be 
held by them, or the survivor, and their heirs, in chief of the Crown, as 
fully and freely as Sir Walter and Euphemia held their own lands, and in 

1 Transumpt, Philorth Charter-room. Antiquities of Aberdeen, vol. iv. p. 87. 



compensation and satisfaction of Johanna's claims as heir-portioner upon 
the lands of the earldom of Boss. 1 

This charter and another of similar import were confirmed hy Eobert in. 
on 28th October 1405, thirty years after they had been granted. 2 

These lands, constituting the ancient lordship of Philorth, seem to have 
comprised very considerable portions of the present parishes of Fraserburgh, 
Bathen, Pitsligo, Aberdour, Tyrie, and Strichen, lying around the Hill of 
Mormond, the highest land in Buchan, which attains an elevation of 800 
feet above the sea, from which it is distant from three to four miles on its 
northern and eastern sides. The surrounding country is undulating, and 
even in that early age must have contained many tracts of considerable 
fertility, which recent reclamation and improvement have extended to the 
whole area, with trivial exceptions. The north branch of the river Ugie flows 
in a south-easterly direction at no great distance to the south of Mormond, 
and forms a junction with the southern branch a few miles further on, the 
united waters falling into the sea near the town of Peterhead. A small stream, 
called the water of Philorth, rises in the uplands to the west of Mormond, 
and, taking an easterly course, runs along the northern base of that hill, and 
passing Bathen enters the sea near the south end of the bay of Fraserburgh, 
formerly called the bay of Philorth. About three furlongs from the sea, 
upon a little knoll close to the south bank of the stream, stands the old 
Manor Place of Philorth, now called the castle of Cairnbulg, an extensive 
and picturesque ruin ; there are signs of a moat having once surrounded the 
knoll, and as the land is flat for a considerable distance on every side except 
the south, and was at that time very marshy, the castle must have been a 
strong fortress, for the rising ground on the south is not near enough to have 
enabled the rude engines used in war before the introduction of cannon to 
command it. The country generally is bare of wood, except in the vicinity 

1 A slight inaccuracy in " The Braces and error in an otherwise correct passage, as they 

the C'omyns," by Mrs. Gumming Bruce, may did succeed Hugh de Boss in some of his 

here be corrected. At page 427 the authoress lands, though descended from his elder 

terms the Lords Saltoun, i.e. the Frasers of brother William, through Johanna de Boss. 
Philorth, " descendants" of the second son of 

Hugh, Earl of Boss. The word " successors" - Transumpt, BhUorth Charter-room. An- 

in place of " descendants" would rectify the tiquities of Aberdeen, vol. ii. p. 351. 



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of the mansions of Crimonmogate, belonging to Miss Bannerman, Cairness, 
to J. W. Gordon, Esquire, and Cortes, to W. F. Cordiner, Esquire, towards 
the east ; while upon and beyond the southern boundary of the district the 
estates of Strichen, Pitfour, Aden, and Brucklay are tolerably clothed. 
About a mile to the north-west of the old castle the present house of 
Philorth stands in the midst of extensive plantations, and about two miles 
further westward, and the same distance to the north of Mormond Hill, a 
low wooded range of rising ground runs for about a mile and a half east and 


west, with a breadth of a little over a quarter of a mile, called the Sinclair 
Hills, having derived its name from a family anciently settled in the district. 
Hugh de Boss, Bord of Philorth (from whom, with his elder brother, the Earl 
of Boss, David II. evicted the half of the lands of the earldom of Buchan, 
and bestowed them on Sir Walter de Beslie, as above related), granted the 
lands of Easter Tyrie to Alexander de St. Clair, the son of Thomas de St. 
Clair ; and though the king had dispossessed the granter, Hugh de Boss, in 
October 1370, he confirmed the charter to the sub-tenant in November of the 
same year. 1 Although this branch of the St. Clairs left its name to a feature 
of the country, it does not appear to have remained long in that district, and 
having possessions in other parts of Scotland, probably soon abandoned those 
it held in Buchan. 

About two miles northward of the Sinclair Hills, near the north-eastern 
corner of the coast, stood, at that date, the village of Faithlie (the site upon 
which, in after ages, the town of Fraserburgh was built), which, with a small 
tract of laud around it, including the high bluff of Kinaird's Head (probably 
of old " Ceann ard," the high head), the promontorium Taixalium of Btolemy, 
seems to have been then distinct from the lordship of Bhilorth. Sir Walter 
de Beslie and his wife, Euphemia, Countess of Boss, granted Faithlie and 
Tyrie to Andrew Mercer in 1381, and they remained in the possession of his 
descendants until sold by Sir Henry Mercer of Aldie to Sir William Fraser 
of Bhilorth in 150B 2 

There were also various small estates within the area above referred to, 
such as Pitblae, Aucheries, New Forest, etc., held by sub-tenants from the 

1 Robertson's Index, p. 58, No. 10 ; p. 91, No. 273. 

2 Philorth Charter-room. 


Earls Marischal and other superior lords ; but by far the greater part was 
included in the estate or lordship of Philorth, which Sir Alexander Fraser 
acquired by his marriage with Lady Johanna de Eoss, to which must be 
added outlying properties of considerable extent in Aberdeenshire and Banff- 
shire, some of which he almost immediately bestowed upon his brother, John 

In 1376 Sir Alexander Fraser, Lord of Cowie, granted to his brother, 
John Fraser, the lands of Auchinshogill, Plady, Loncardy, Delgady, and 
others in that neighbourhood, in the valley of the Deveron. 1 

This John Fraser, described as son of the late Sir William Fraser, in 1373 
had obtained from Robert II. a charter of the lands of Wester Essintuly, 
resigned by Sir John de Dalgarnok, for which he was to do suit and service 
at the royal castle of the thanage of Durris; and about 1387-8, having come 
into possession of the lands of Forglen by a grant from the Abbot of Arbroath, 
he was styled dominus of that place. 3 

The estates bestowed upon his brother by Sir Alexander were part of 
those he had received from Sir AValter de Leslie, and it seems for some years 
to have been doubtful how far it was in his power to alienate estates accjuired 
by his marriage, for in 1385 Sir Alexander gave to his brother John a letter 
of obligation, to the effect that he should have the whole lands of the barony 
of Durris in compensation, if by any legal process he should be ejected from 
possession of Auchinshogill, and the other properties in Buchan that he had 
granted to him. No such eviction, however, occurred, and John Fraser re- 
tained those estates, which, by the terms of the charter of 1376, were to be 
held by him and his heirs as feudatories of Sir Alexander and his heirs, for 
the delivery of a pair of gilt spurs at the manor place of Philorth, on each 
feast of Pentecost ; and this charter was confirmed in 1397, during his father's 
lifetime, by William Fraser, who is styled son and heir of Sir Alexander 
Fraser, Lord of Cowie. 3 

1 Antiquities of Aber-deen, vol. i. p. 470. original document, Philorth Charter-room, 

2 Ibid. p. 511. the name is contracted, and much defaced; 

3 In the Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, pub- this may have caused the error, which is 
lished by the Spalding Club, vol. ii. p. 352, the evident from the name of the recipient being 
name of the granterof this obligation is printed "John," and from the charter of 1376, 
" John," in mistake for " Alexander." In the printed in vol. i. p. 470 of the Antiquities. 


A dispute having arisen between Adam, Bishop of Aberdeen, and John, 
Lord of Forbes, it was settled by arbitration in 1387, and Sir Alexander 
Fraser, Vicecomes of Aberdeen, John Fraser of Forglen, and Thomas Fraser 
of Cornetoun, witb some others, were the arbiters appointed on the part of 
the bishop. 1 

In the same year, on the 19th of October, Robert II. confirmed a charter 
from Sir Alexander Fraser, whom the king terms " consanguineus noster," to 
Alexander Bannerman, burgess of Aberdeen, of the lands of Alesick, now 
Elsick, in the barony of Cowie. 3 

In 1388 Sir Alexander Fraser accompanied the heroic James, second 
Earl of Douglas, on his expedition into Northumberland. Froissart, in his 
Chronicle, says that the main Scottish army, under Sir Archibald Douglas, 
Lord of Galloway, the Earl of Fife, and Sir Stephen Freseyle, 3 marched 
towards Carlisle, while a smaller division, commanded by James Earl of 
Douglas, with the Earls of Moray and March, and other leaders, entered 
Northumberland, crossed the Tyne at Brancepeth, and ravaged the country as 
far as Durham. It then retired, and laid siege to Newcastle-on-Tyne, which 
was defended by Sir Henry Percy and his brother, Ralph, where, in one of 
the encounters at the barriers, Douglas captured Percy's pennon, and, on 
raising the siege, vowed to carry it into Scotland, and to place it on his 
Castle of Dalkeith. 

To recover his pennon and avenge the insult, Sir Henry Percy, having 
collected a considerable force, pursued the Scottish army, and overtaking 
their leisurely march at Otterbourne, where they had halted to reduce the 
castle of that name, fought the desperate battle in which " Douglas, though 
victor, was slain, and the Percy led captive away," having surrendered to 
Montgomerie of Easlesham, ancestor of the Earls of Eiilinton. 

Froissart, who received his information from two French knights present 
at the engagement, describes it as the most fiercely fought and severest 
encounter of his time, and says that he can only liken one other to it, that of 

1 Reg. Episc. Aberdon., vol. i. p. 176. torial name de Freslay or de Freslaw, and 

2 Antiquities of Aberdeen, vol. iv. p. 642. were domini de Arringrosk and Fourgy. Reg. 

3 He may have been a Fraser of Fruid, or de Cambuskennetb, pp. 6-23. 
perhaps one of a family that bore the terri- 


He gives the numbers of the English as 9000, and those of the Scottish 
forces as but 3000, an enormous disproportion of three to one, but points out 
that the latter had the advantage of rest, position, and the wise precaution 
taken by the Earl of Douglas to organise his plan of battle, in case of a night 
attack, which foresight was one cause of Percy's defeat, who, as anticipated 
by his adversary, did make his attack in the night, and his front being 
engaged in the assault of the Scottish camp, where it encountered desperate 
resistance, was himself assailed on the flank by a large force, led on by 
Douglas in person. 

The effect of this attack in flank was tremendous, and altogether dis- 
organised the English array, and though, upon a rally being made by part of 
their army, Douglas was overpowered by numbers and mortally wounded, 
far in advance of the bulk of his forces, who could not reach the spot to 
which his prodigious strength and heroic valour had carried him in time 
to save his life ; yet, as the English were unaware that it was he whom 
they had slain, the exertions of the Earl of Moray and the other com- 
manders, who by his dying orders concealed his fate, raised his banner 
and continued his war-cry of Douglas ! Douglas ! as if he were still leading 
them on, completed the defeat of the English, which speedily became an 
utter rout. 1 

Sir Henry Percy and his brother, Sir Ealph, with many other gentle- 
men, were made prisoners, and their dispersed army chased for miles from 
the field of battle, 1040 having been slain in the flight, and 1840 falling 
in the pursuit, while the Scottish loss was only 100 killed and 200 taken 

The name of Sir Alexander Fraser is recorded by Eroissart among those 
of whom he says, " II n'y avoit nul qui n'entendist Men, et vaillement, a 
faire a besogne" in this desperate encounter ; 2 and he had the good fortune 
to escape the fate that befell his gallant leader and some of his brave 

After a rest of three days, and holding at bay the Bishop of Durham (who 

1 The account of the death of Douglas at pages of that eloquent chronicler of gallant 
Otterbourne, by Froissart, is one of the most and knightly feats of arras, 
interesting and graphical!}' told events in the 2 Buchon's ed. of Froissart, vol. ii. p. 730. 


with 20,000 men appeared the day after the battle, but retired without daring 
to attack), the army, under the Earl of Moray's command, continued its 
retreat into Scotland with its prisoners (among whom were more than forty 
knights), and the booty it had gained during the expedition, but at the 
same time carrying the dead body of its late beloved leader in mournful 

Sir Archibald Douglas, surnamed the Grim, Lord of Galloway and 
Bothwell (who became third Earl of Douglas), granted a charter, confirmed 
by Eobert n. in 1378, of 80 merks worth of the lauds and mills of Aberdour, 
in the sheriffdom of Aberdeen, to Sir Alexander Fraser, whom he terms 
" confederato nostro" (our ally or comrade), 1 to be held of the Earl and his 
heirs ; whom failing, of his Countess Johanna and her heirs, Lords of the 
lordship of Aberdour, which seems to infer that this lordship was part of the 
estate which the Countess brought to her husband. 

On the 31st October 1408, James of Douglas, Lord of Abercorn and 
Aberdour, younger son of the third Earl, granted a charter of Little 
Drumquhendil to Patrick Eeed Eamsay, 2 upon the resignation of Sir 
Alexander Fraser, whom he calls " Domini Alexandri Fraser, Militis, con- 
sanguinei nostri" (our cousin), which was confirmed by Archibald, fourth Earl 
of Douglas, and although Sir Alexander is not named as a cousin of his own 
by the Earl, he must have borne that relationship to him also, for both 
brothers styled his son William " consanguineus " in other documents. 3 

The third Earl of Douglas had become Lord of Bothwell by his marriage 
with Johanna or Jean, daughter and heiress of Sir Thomas Moray, who was 
second son of the famous Sir Andrew Moray of Bothwell, and had succeeded 

1 Philorth Charter-room. Antiquities of be held in chief of the Crown ; but here, a 

Aberdeen, vol. iv. p. 1 1 3. This is the charter few years later, the Lord of Aberdour and 

of the 80 inert land in Aberdour seen by his brother, the fourth Earl of Douglas, 

Crawfurd. appear as overlords of them. It is probable, 

- Slaius Charter-room. Antiquities of as was not uncommon, that one portion of 

Aberdeenshire, vol. i. p. 448. the estate was included in the lordship of 

3 Philorth Charter-room. Antiquities of Philorth; and another portion in that of 

Aberdeenshire, vol. ii. p. 375. The lands of Aberdour, which last may have been part 

Little Drumquhendil had been given to Sir of the SO merks worth of land given by the 

Alexander Fraser in 1375, by Sir Walter de third Earl to Sir Alexander Fraser before 

Leslie, as part of the lordship of Philorth, to 137S. 


his elder brother John, who died without issue ; and the terms of these 
charters evince that, although there was no blood relationship between 
the third Earl and Sir Alexander Eraser, whom he calls " confederate nostro," 
such relationship did exist between the latter and the two sons of the 
former, the fourth Earl and James de Douglas, who were the children of his 
wife, Johanna Moray of Bothwell ; and as this blood relationship could only 
have originated through her, it affords good ground for the conclusion that 
Margaret Moray the wife of Sir William Eraser, was Sir Alexander's 
mother, that she was of the Bothwell family, and a daughter of Sir Andrew 
Moray, which is strengthened by the appearance of her name in such close 
proximity with that of John Moray, as already noticed, and also by the 
probability referred to above that Aberdour was part of Johanna Moray's 
own estate, upon which Sir Alexander may have had some claim through 
his mother. 

Lady Johanna de Boss, Sir Alexander Eraser's first wife, died before 
1400, for in that year a lady of the name of Hamilton appears as his wife, 
who is said to have been of the family of Cadzou, ancestors of the ducal 
house of Hamilton. 

In 1400 he granted, with the consent of his wife, Lady Elizabeth de 
Hamilton, who seems to have been infeft in the estate to secure her jointure, 
certain lands in the barony of Durris to his illegitimate son, Alexander 
Fraser, to be held under himself and Elizabeth de Hamilton, or the survivor, 
and under the heirs of this second marriage ; and failing such heirs, he 
granted him the whole barony of Durris, to be held under himself and his 
heirs, with a proviso that if the grantee should die without legitimate issue, 
the barony should revert to himself or his heirs. 1 

As there was no issue of the second marriage, this Alexander Fraser 
obtained the whole lands of the barony in accordance with the terms of the 
charter, and was the immediate ancestor of the family of Durris. 2 

A charter is on record, granted in 1406 by Alexander Fraser, Lord of 
Bhilorth and Clogstoune, to his cousin, Joneta Makgillumquha, giving her 
the lands of Closerath and Druindowle, in the barony of Clogstoune and 

1 Antiquities of Aberdeen, vol. iii. p. 362. 

2 See Appendix, The Frasers of Durris. 


sheriffdom of Wigtown; but who this lady was, or how her cousinship with 
him arose, cannot be ascertained. 1 

The seal of Sir Alexander Fraser has not been discovered, but it may be 
noticed that from his acquisition of Philorth and other estates by his marriage 
with the heiress, Johanna de Ross, their descendants quartered the arms of 
the Earls of Eoss with the Fraser rosettes or cinquefoils. 

These arms were gules, three lions rampant argent, as appear on the seals 
of Euphemia, Countess of Eoss, and her uncle, Hugh de Eoss, Lord of Philorth. 

It is also probable that he adopted the crest that has since been used by 
the family, an ostrich holding a horse-shoe in its beak, which may have been 
taken from the supporters of the arms of the great family of Comyn, Earls of 
Buchan, of whose property Philorth had formerly been a part. 

After an active life, Sir Alexander Fraser died in or shortly before 
1411, as in October of that year William, his only son by his first marriage, 
appears as Dominus de Philorth, and in possession of the family estates. 

By his second wife, who survived him, he had no issue. , 

Euphemia, Countess of Ross, 1381. Hugh de Ross, Lord of Philorth, 1365. 





In the year 1397, William Fraser confirmed his father's charter of Auchin- 
shogill, Plady, Loncardy, Delgattie, etc., to his uncle, John Fraser. 2 He is 

1 Antiquities of Aberdeen, vol. iv. p. 642. 

2 Charter-room, Slains. Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. i. p. 470 ; vol. ii. p. 352. 



styled " filius et heres domini Alexandri Fraser, militis, domini baronie de 
Cowy, ac dominus de Filorth," and, therefore, he was probably born about 
1376, and infeft in Philorth on his mother's decease. 

About 1404 he married a lady of the Douglas family, for, on the 8th of 
December in that year, Isabel de Douglas, Countess of Mar and the Garioch, 
gave a charter of the lands of Tibarty and Utlaw, in the barony of " Strauth- 
aveth," in the sheriffdom of Banff, " dilecto nostro affmi Gulielmo Fraser, et 
Elinore de Duglas, sponse sue ... in libero maritagio." 1 

The parentage of Elinor de Douglas is uncertain. Crawfurd says that 
she was a daughter of Archibald the Grim, third Earl of Douglas. The same 
view is taken in the Peerage by Douglas, who erroneously calls her husband 
" Alexander Fraser." This account of her parentage seems scarcely correct, 
for if she had been a daughter of the third Earl, his two sons, the fourth Earl 
and James de Douglas, Lord of Abercorn, would have been brothers-in-law 
to her husband, William Fraser, and would have designated him accordingly, 
instead of by the term " consanguineus," or cousin, which they will be seen 
to have used to him. 

Taking into consideration the probable date of her birth, about 1385, and 
that she was dowered by Isabella, Countess of Mar, it may be conjectured 
that she was an illegitimate daughter of that lady's brother, the gallant 
James, second Earl of Douglas and Earl of Mar, who fell at Otterburn in 

"William Fraser obtained the lands of Over and Nether Pittullie, Pitsbgach, 
Culburty, and others, all within the barony of Aberdour, in 1408, on the 
resignation of his father, who reserved his own superiority and the terce of 
Lady Elizabeth Hamilton, his second wife. In pursuance of the resignation, 
the superior, James de Douglas, Lord of Abercorn and Aberdour, granted a 
charter of these subjects " carissimo consanguineo nostro Willelmo Fraser," 
which was confirmed in the same year by Archibald, fourth Earl of Douglas, 
who used similar terms in the designation of the grantee. 2 

1 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iii. de Bruce by her first husband, Gratney, Earl 

p. 576. The grandfather of the Countess, of Mar, and her third, Sir Andrew Moray 

Donald, Earl of Mar, and William Fraser's of Bothwell. 
grandmother, Margaret Moray, were half 

brother and sister, children of Lady Christian - Philorth Charter-room. 


On the 10th of July 1410, the fourth Earl of Douglas gave a bond for 
one hundred merks, " dilecto consanguineo nostro Vilhelmo Fraser de 
Philorth, militi," 1 which shows that William Fraser had received the honour 
of knighthood before that date. His succession to the estates must have 
occurred before the end of the next year, for, on the 31st October 1411, as 
dominus de Philorth, he issued to his bailie, John de Inchmartyn, canon of 
Aberdeen, a precept of sasine in favour of Alexander, dominus de Forbes, of 
the lands of Mykle Fintra, the half of Tulymald, Blactoun, with the Smithill, 
Miltoun of Kynnedwart, Belcors, and an annualrent of ten shillings from the 
town of Edane, all in the barony of Kynedwart. It is probable that the Lord 
of Forbes had purchased these properties from him. 2 

During Sir William Fraser's life the power and influence of the family of 
Philorth suffered serious diminution, in consequence of his having been 
obliged to part with very considerable portions of the estates which he 
inherited from his parents. 

There is no positive information as to the cause of these misfortunes and 
pecuniary difficulties, but they may have arisen from his having been impli- 
cated in some of the political disturbances of that unquiet age. One of the 
most serious of these commotions was connected with the earldom of Eoss, 
and in this he may have been involved by his near relationship to Alexander 
de Leslie, Earl of Eoss, and his sister, Margaret de Leslie, the wife of Donald, 
Lord of the Isles, who were his first cousins. 

Alexander de Leslie, Earl of Eoss, married Isabel, daughter of Eobert, 
Duke of Albany, afterwards Eegent, by whom he had an only daughter, who 
bore the name of Euphemia after her paternal grandmother, and on her 
father's death in 1402, succeeded to the earldom of Eoss. 

It was probably the old contention, so often met with, that among heirs- 
female, a daughter is nearer heir than a son's daughter, which induced 
Donald, Lord of the Isles, to assert the claim of his wife, Margaret de 
Leslie, to the earldom of Eoss ; but the claim was repelled by the Eegent, 
and the result was the rebellion of the Lord of the Isles, his devastation of 
the northern districts nearly as far as Aberdeen, and the battle of Harlaw, 
in the summer of 1411, after which he was compelled to retreat. 

1 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. p. 85. 2 Ibid. vol. iii. p. 534. 


Whether Sir William Eraser was implicated in this rebellion it is impos- 
sible to say, but let the facts be noticed, that, in October 1411, he sold certain 
lands to the Lord of Forbes ; that two years later he was obliged to make 
a further sacrifice of his estates, and on the 10th October 1413 sold the 
baronies of Collie (Cowie) and Durris (saving the right of his stepmother, 
Lady Elizabeth de Hamilton, who was infeft in them) to William de Hay, 
Lord of Errol and Constable of Scotland, " for a sowme of sylure before- 
hand in my mykyle mistre to me payit ;" and it will not seem improbable 
that, upon the repulse of the Lord of the Isles at Harlaw in 1411, and his 
forced submission in the following year, Sir William may have been heavily 
fined for acts of commission - or of omission during the preceding disturbances. 

The connection of Cowie with the Eraser name ceased altogether, and 
there is no later trace of it, with the exception of a service in 1461 of the 
son and successor of Sir William, as heir to his grandfather, which will be 
mentioned in its place ; but Durris eventually passed to the Alexander Eraser 
to whom it had been granted if there was no issue of his father, Sir 
Alexander's, second marriage, and his descendants continued in possession 
of that estate for many years. 1 

Sir William Fraser also sold the lands of Ardlaw, with the mill of Body- 
chell, to John, natural son of Sir John, Lord of Gordon, in 1418, and the sale 
was confirmed by Sir James de Douglas, Lord of Abercorn and Aberdour, 
in 1423. 2 

In 1423 he had to encounter a most serious danger, and not only lost 
further parts of his property, but was forced to resist an attack upon his 
position as a tenant-in-chief of the Crown. 

The second Euphemia, Countess of Eoss, took the veil, and became 
Abbess of Elcho, a course doubtless highly approved by the crafty Eegent 
who before 1415 had obtained from her a resignation of the earldom, for 
a regrant to herself and the heirs of her body; whom failing, to John 
Stewart, Earl of Buchan, the Eegent's eldest son by his marriage with Muriel 
de Keith, and the heirs-male of his body; whom failing, to the Earl's 
brother, Eobert Stewart, and the heirs-male of his body ; whom failing, to 
revert to the Crown ; and on the 15th June in that year he granted a charter 
1 See Appendix, Frasers of Durris. 2 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. ii. p. 378. 


of the earldom to her and the other heirs in that succession. 1 The design 
of the Eegent may partly have been to reduce the power of one of the great 
feudatories of the Crown ; but in these proceedings it is evident that while 
he maintained to a certain extent the charter of 1370 from King David II. 
to William, Earl of Boss, by which alone could Euphemia pretend to any 
right in the subjects that she resigned, he sought to set aside the further 
destinations contained in that charter, and to reverse them in favour of his 
own sons. 

Some success may have attended his designs ; but if so, it was only tem- 
porary, for Margaret de Leslie was Countess of Eoss before her death in 
1429, and was succeeded in the earldom by her son, Alexander, Lord of the 
Isles, who, in 1449, was succeeded by his son, John, Lord of the Isles. 

Sir William Eraser had two daughters ; Agnes, probably the elder, 
married William de Forbes of Kinaldie, whose elder brother, Sir Alex- 
ander, dominus de Forbes, was one of the most steadfast allies and inti- 
mate friends of John Stewart, Earl of Buchan. Isabel, the other daughter, 
married Gilbert Menzies. 

In pursuance of the plans originated by the Eegent, the Earl of Buchau, 
by virtue of the charter of 15th June 1415, and upon the retirement 
of Euphemia without heirs of her body, ignored altogether the charters 
of 1375 from Sir Walter de Leslie and his wife, the first Euphemia, 
Countess of Eoss, to Sir Alexander Fraser and his spouse Johanna, 
the sister of the Countess. He granted charters, of date 24th September 2 
and 6 tli November 3 1423, in the latter of which he claimed, as superior 
of the barony of Kinedwart, and upon the recital of a resignation of the 
subjects by Sir William Fraser, to re-grant the lands of the lordship of 
Philorth to William Fraser and Marjorie his wife, or the longer liver of 
them, and to the heirs-male of the body of William Fraser ; whom failing, to 
William de Forbes of Kinaldie, and Agnes his wife, daughter of William 
Fraser, or the longer liver of them, and the heirs of the body of William de 
Forbes ; whom failing, to Sir Alexander de Forbes, Lord of Forbes, and the 

1 Original Charter in the Eothes Charter-chest. 

2 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. p. 86. 

3 Forglen Charter-chest. 


heirs of his body : thus setting aside the heirs of the body of Agnes Fraser, 
and also Sir William Fraser's other daughter, Isabel, and her heirs, and pro- 
viding for the succession of the Forbes family, in the event of the decease, 
without issue, of Sir William Fraser's only son Alexander. 

The resignation by Sir William Fraser, embodied in this charter, cannot 
have been an act of his free will. It is possible that it may have been 
inserted without his knowledge, or, more probably, it may have been extorted 
by force, and, therefore, not regarded as binding by him. There is not suffi- 
cient evidence extant to determine which was the case, but Sir William 
Fraser, either upon becoming aware of the Earl's proceedings, or upon 
regaining freedom of action, on the 4th March 1425, procured a transumpt 
or judicial copy, under the Great Seal, of the confirmation by King Eobert III. 
in 1405 of the charters given in 1375 by Sir Walter de Leslie and his wife, 
the Countess, to Sir Alexander Fraser and his spouse, Johanna de Ross, 1 
evidently for the purpose of resisting the usurpation of superiority on 
the part of the Earl, by proving that those charters, which granted the 
lordship of Philorth, and the other lands conveyed by them, to be held in 
chief of the Crown, were genuine documents, and had received the royal 

He appears to have succeeded in establishing this, and to have maintained 
his right to hold Philorth direct from the Crown, without the interven- 
tion of a subject-superior, for although, on the 30th May 1432, the Earl 
of Buchan's charter was confirmed by King James I., 2 and, in 1437, Sir 
William's son, Alexander Fraser, procured a transumpt of the charter of 
1375 by Sir Walter de Leslie and his wife, the Countess 3 (the confirmation 
having been probably obtained by the Forbes family privately, to be used 
should opportunity occur, and the transumpt having been, in all likelihood, 
due to some revival of their claim), no further serious action seems to have 
been taken in the matter, and the pretended superiority of the Earl of Buchan 
was never admitted, or legally enforced. 

But Sir William Fraser was obliged to give a considerable part of his 
remaining estates as a marriage portion to his daughter Agnes ; and on the 
24th August 1424, he granted to her and William de Forbes of Kinaldie, and 

1 Philorth Charter-room. 2 Forglen Charter-chest. 3 Philorth Charter-room. 


the heirs of their bodies ; whom failing, to Sir Alexander, dominus de Forbes, 
and the heirs of his body ; the lands of Glaslach, Culcoak, Tulynamolt, 
Nether, Over, and Middlemas Bulgny, Achlun, Petslegach (Pitsligo), etc. ; 
and this charter, with its confirmation by James de Douglas, Lord of Bal- 
venie, the superior of Aberdour, was confirmed by King James I. in 1426. 1 

A former charter of these lands had been granted by Sir James de Douglas, 
on the 24th July 1423, to William de Forbes and his wife, Agnes, upon the 
resignation of her father ; and the further destination of them to the Lord of 
Forbes in 1424, may have arisen from some attempt at a compromise. 

There can be no doubt that the possessions in the districts of Eoss, Inver- 
ness, and Galloway, acquired by Sir Alexander Fraser on his marriage with 
Lady Johanna de Eoss, were also lost by their son, Sir William, for they no 
longer appear among the family estates ; but the records of their transference 
to other hands have not been discovered. There is, however, some reason to 
believe that those in the district of Inverness fell to William de Forbes and 
Agnes Fraser, the progenitors of the Pitsligo family, and, about a century 
later, passed by sale from that family into the hands of Lord Fraser of 

The unhappy loss of so many estates was doubtless the cause of the repre- 
sentative of the Philorth family not having been raised to the dignity of a 
peerage, when barons by patent began to be created in Scotland, as he would, 
in all likelihood, have been selected for that honour, if the possessions and 
influence of Sir Alexander Fraser, first of Philorth, had been preserved intact. 

In 1430, Alexander, Earl of Mar and the Garioch, confirmed a charter of 
the lands of Tibberty and Utlaw from Sir William Fraser to his son and heir, 
Alexander Fraser, and Marjorie Menzies, the wife of the latter ; and in the 
same year Sir James de Douglas, Lord of Balvenie, issued a precept of sasine 
in Culburty, Memsie, Over and Nether Pittullie, and Eathen, in favour of 
Alexander Fraser, on the resignation of his father, 2 and these properties were 
evidently the provision for the heir-apparent at the time of his marriage. 
The date of this precept is printed 1420 in the Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, 
published by the Spalding Club, vol. ii. p. 378 ; but the original document, 
though a good deal damaged, seems to have had a third numeral x, and that 

1 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. ii. p. 380. 2 Philorth Charter-room. 


date coincides with the marriage of the heir, who in 1420 would have been 
too young to require a separate establishment. 

It would appear, from the destination in the charter of the Earl of 
Buchan, that Sir William Fraser was a second time married ; but the lady's 
surname is not mentioned, and no notice has been found of the family to 
which she belonged. 

It is probable that Sir William Fraser died before 1441. 1 

He left one son and two daughters : — 

Alexander, who succeeded him. 

Agnes, married William de Forbes of Kinaldie. 

Isabel, married Gilbert Menzies (probably younger of Findon). 



The birth of this Alexander Fraser may be placed in the first decade 
of the fifteenth century, for his father, Sir William, was married about 1404, 
and he himself appears as the husband of Marjorie Menzies in 1430. 

Shortly after his succession, Alexander Fraser was engaged in a lawsuit 
with the Hays of Ardendracht and the Thorntons of that Ilk, to enforce his 
superiority over the lands of Auchinshogill, Plady, Delgattie, etc., which 
had passed into their possession upon the failure of the male line of his 
granduncle, Sir John Fraser. In this dispute he was successful. 

In the year 1450, William, eighth Earl of Douglas, and many other dis- 
tinguished Scots, attended the Jubilee at Rome, and Alexander Fraser is said 
by Crawfurd to have been among those who made that journey. 2 

After his return to his own country, he resigned all his possessions into 
the hands of James II. for re-infeftment. At Spynie, in Morayshire, on 
the 9th February 1456, the King granted him a charter, erecting the lands 
of Philorth, and those belonging to him in Aberdour, with Tibberty and 
Utlaw in Banffshire, into a free barony of Philorth, to be held in chief of 
the Crown by him and his heirs ; 3 and this the king was enabled to do from 

1 Lives of Officers of State, p. 280. 2 Ibid. p. 281, quoting Holinshed, p.; 391. 

3 Philorth Charter-room. 


having succeeded to the earldom of Mar, in which the superiority over 
Tibberty and Utlaw was vested, while the barony of Aberdour was also 
in the royal hands by the forfeiture of the ninth Earl of Douglas and his 
family during the preceding year ; and this instance of his sovereign's 
favour is an evidence that Alexander Fraser had adhered to the king's party 
in the struggle that decided whether a Stewart or a Douglas was to reign in 

The name of Alexander Fraser of Philorth is found among those of the 
twenty-one influential nobles and gentlemen that composed the assize of 
error, or inquest, held at Aberdeen on the 5th November 1457, in the course 
of the law-suit between the Crown and Thomas Lord Erskine, respecting the 
half of the earldom of Mar, which the latter claimed as having been the pro- 
perty of his father, Eobert Lord of Erskine. His claim, however, was rejected 
by the verdict of the inquest, which found that the half of the earldom had 
never rightfully belonged to his father, but had been possessed by King 
James I., on whose decease it descended to James n. 1 

Crawfurd says that Alexander Fraser received the honour of knighthood 
from James II., 2 and it was about this time that he attained to that rank, for 
on the 14th of April 1461, under the designation "Miles," he was served heir 
to his grandfather, Sir Alexander Fraser of Cowie, by an inquest held at 
Kincardine ; 3 but this service seems to have been merely accessory to the 
establishment of the title of Nicholas, second Earl of Errol, to that estate, 
which had been given by the first Earl of Errol in 1447 to his uncle, William 
de Hay of Ury, second son of the Sir William de Hay who had bought it 
from Sir William Fraser in 1413, but was to revert to the earldom, if Hay of 
Ury died without issue, which event occurred about three months before the 
inquest was held. 

A transaction that occurred in the year 1464 deserves some notice, 
reciprocal entails were made by Sir Alexander Fraser, dominus de Philorth, 
and his cousin, Hugh dominus Fraser de Lovat ; for, on the 1 3th July in that 
year, the former executed a charter of tailzie or deed of entail, by which, 
after destining his whole lands to his own six sons, and the heirs-male of each 

1 Miscellany of Spalding Club, vol. v. p. 2 Lives of Officers of State, p. 281. 

272. 3 Philorth Charter-room. 


in succession, and, failing them, to any other heirs-male of his own body that 
might be ; upon the failure of all these, he disponed them " dilecto consan- 
guineo meo Hugoni domino Fraser de Lowet, et heredibus suis masculis de 
corpore suo legitime procreatis, aut procreandis quibuscunque ;" and upon 
their failure, "heredibus legitimis cognominis nostri vocati Fraser, nobis 
propinquioribus, et masculis, quibuscunque." 1 Hugh, Lord Fraser of 
Lovat, also made a similar entail, for although the deed itself is no longer in 
the Charter-room at Philorth, a copy of it, made in 1698, has been preserved, 
which shows that he destined, if he should happen to die without an heir- 
male, the whole of his estates of Lovat and Kinnell, etc., saving the tierce 
of his wife Violette Lyonne, " dilecto consanguineo meo Alexandra Fraser de 
Philorth, militi, . . . et heredibus suis masculis de corpore suo legitime 
procreatis, aut procreandis ;" whom failing, " heredibus meis masculis et 
propinquioribus cognominis mei quibuscunque;" 2 and on the 24th of August 
1464, he issued a precept of sasine to the same effect in favour of Sir Alex- 
ander Fraser and his heirs-male. 3 

Although this interchange of entails was inoperative, in consequence of 
the succession in each family having been carried on by direct heirs, yet it is 
interesting as a recognition of the relationship of the parties, and as reflecting 
a little light upon former generations ; for the granters of the respective 
entails must be held to have been the nearest of kin to each other, by legiti- 
mate male descent, living at the time ; and from the destination in both 
entails being eventually to heirs-male of the name of Fraser, without 
particularising any other cousin, the conclusion must be drawn that no 
other as closely related to either legitimately was then in existence. 

The male line of Sir John Fraser of Forglen and Ardendracht seems to 
have failed about 1440, for his son and heir had died without male issue 
before that year, and there is no trace of any descendants of his other sons, 
Andrew and William ; and therefore, in 1464, the third lord of Philorth and 
his sons were the only remaining legitimate descendants of Sir William 
Fraser, the Chamberlain's son. 

1 Philorth Charter-room. 2 Copy made a.d. 169S, by Robert Fraser, 

3 Ibid. Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. from the original, then in possession of Wil- 
v. p. 90. liain Fraser, eleventh Lord Saltoun. 


In the Appendix it will be seen that Hugh Fraser, first of Lovat, was a 
younger son, as is plainly evinced by the charged border of the shield upon 
his seal; 1 and that in all probability the Alexander Fraser, who first appears in 
1337, and again in 1361, as brother-in-law to Sir Thomas Moray, was his father, 
and was a younger brother of a Simon who died without issue, and that they 
both were sons of Sir Simon Fraser the Chamberlain's brother ; but if this were 
so, from the descendant of this Hugh having been the only person nearly 
enough related to the third Lord of Philorth to be termed cousin in the 
entail of 1464, it follows that the male line of any elder son of that Alexander 
must have become extinct before that date. In the Appendix there will be 
found some account of a Duncan Fraser of Tulifour in 1362-67, whose son 
Alexander was cousin to John Fraser of Forglen or Ardendracht, in 1414, 
and therefore also cousin to the Lord of Philorth, and whose male line 
appears to have failed about the same time as that of the family of Forglen 
and Ardendracht, or perhaps earlier, as there is no further notice of them to 
be found after the year 1414. 

The above circumstances afford strong reasons for supposing that it was 
the failure of the male line of Sir John Fraser of Forglen and Ardendracht, 
on the one hand, and of that of Duncan Fraser of Tulifour, on the other, that 
brought the Lord of Philorth and the Lord of Lovat into the position of nearest 
of kin to each other in 1464 ; and they also support, in no slight degree, the 
descent of the latter family from Sir Simon Fraser the Chamberlain's brother ; 
for it must be remembered that the male line of the Frasers of Frendraught 
descended from James, another brother of the Chamberlain, had also failed 
early in that century, and that there is no record of any male issue of the 
Chamberlain's brother Andrew. And it would therefore appear that in 
1464 the Frasers of Philorth, and the Frasers of Lovat, were the only existing 
legitimate male descendants of the Sir Andrew Fraser who flourished in 
1291-1297, and was the father of the Chamberlain, and his three brothers, 
Simon, Andrew, and James. 

The absence of any mention by name of the Frasers of Cornetoun in the 

1 Though in very ancient heraldry it may Richard II. in 1390, " that the Bordure is a 

be doubtful whether the border was a mark mark of cadency properly so called." — Boutell's 

of cadency, it had become so at that period, Heraldry, pp. 216-7. 
for Boutell mentions a decision of King 


entail of 1464, is also remarkable, for they were then an important family. It 
shows that they were not so nearly related to the Lord of Philorth as to be 
particularised as cousins, and this affords support to the belief that they were 
older cadets of the race, and were descended from the Sir Alexander Fraser 
who held that estate in 1306. 1 

Sir Alexander Fraser bought the lands of Scatterty and Byth, in the 
barony of Kinedwart, from Thomas de Grayme in 1470, and the charter 
of sale was confirmed by the superior, John Lord of the Isles, and Baron 
of Kinedwart, who also, in 1471, gave him a second charter, upon the resig- 
nation of Thomas de Grayme ; and in both of these documents the Lord of the 
Isles terms him " dilecto consanguineo nostro." 2 This cousinship arose from 
Euphemia, Countess of Boss, great-grandmother of the Lord of the Isles, and Sir 
Alexander Fraser's grandmother, Lady Johanna de Boss, having been sisters. 

An attempt was made by Sir Alexander Dunbar of Westfield to set aside 
this transaction, upon the ground of his pre-emption of these lands from 
Thomas de Grayme; and the Lord of the Isles being in rebellion at the time, 
he obtained a charter of them from James in. But Thomas de Grayme 
having made a declaration, and sworn that he had sold them to Sir Alexander 
Fraser three years and a half before he had any dealings respecting them 
with Sir Alexander Dunbar, the latter failed to make good his claim, and they 
remained in possession of the family of Philorth. 3 

On the 25th of June 1470, Sir Alexander Fraser of Philorth, and William 
Meldrum of Fy vie, became bound, as securities, before Alexander Irvine of Drum, 
Sheriff- depute of Aberdeen, that the Provost, Bailies, Council, and community 
of Aberdeen, and the tenants of their freedom, should be unharmed by Thomas 
Fraser of Stonywood, and Andrew Fraser, his son and heir, and their people. 4 

John Lord of the Isles was also Earl of Boss. That dignity descended 
from Euphemia, Countess of Boss, and Sir Walter de Leslie, Lord of Boss, to 
their son Alexander de Leslie, upon whose decease, without male issue, it 
passed to his daughter Euphemia, but was also claimed by Margaret de 
Leslie, his sister, the wife of Donald Lord of the Isles, and the battle of 

1 See Appendix. 3 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iii. p. 

2 Philorth Charter-room. Antiquities of 52S. 

Aberdeenshire, vol. ii. p. 360 ; vol. iii. p. 526. 4 Council Register of Aberdeen, vol. i. p. 56. 


Harlaw, in 1411, was the consequence of her husband's attempt to enforce 
that claim, which, however, seems at last to have been admitted, probably 
after the death of her niece Euphemia, who had taken the veil. Margaret, 
Countess of Eoss, was succeeded in 1429 by her son Alexander, Lord of the 
Isles and Earl of Eoss, who, dying about 1449, left a son, the John Lord of 
the Isles and Earl of Eoss above referred to. 

The Lords of the Isles seem to have existed in a state of chronic rebel- 
lion against the Crown of Scotland (of which, indeed, they were scarcely 
vassals before the reign of Eobert I.), yielding obedience only when its power 
was sufficient to compel submission, revolting and leaguing with its enemies 
whenever there was a prospect of doing so with success ; and though 
repeatedly defeated and humbled in 1412, 1427, and 1429, they had hitherto 
escaped forfeiture ; but in 1462, John Lord of the Isles entered into a deeply 
treasonable convention with Edward IV., contemplating nothing less than the 
transference of his allegiance from the Crown of Scotland to that of England, 
and the conquest and partition of the former kingdom, when he was to have 
the portion north of the river Forth. 

This treason was concealed until about 1474, when, upon peace being 
made between the two countries, a clause in the treaty, requiring each sove- 
reign to abandon all alliances made against the other, caused it to be discovered, 
and measures were soon taken by the King of Scotland against the offender. 

The Lord of the Isles was summoned for high treason in 1475, and on the 
1st December of that year was forfeited for that crime in a Parliament where 
he did not appear. 

An expedition was sent into the district of Eoss against him, but he soon 
made submission, and in July 1476 he was pardoned, and his possessions 
were restored to him, with the exception of the earldom of Eoss, the lordship 
of Kintyre, and the vicecomitatus of Inverness and Nairn, which, says the 
king, " we reserve in memory of his offence and transgressions." 

The earldom of Eoss was inalienably annexed to the Crown of Scotland 
by Act of Parliament, on the 10th July 1476, with power, however, for the 
sovereign to bestow it upon a younger son. 

John Lord of the Isles, though for a time restored to favour, could not 
subdue his hereditary propensity to rebellion, but in 1481 again entered 


into treasonable correspondence with Edward iv., and was forfeited of his 
remaining possessions, and died a fugitive about 1498. 

The annexation of the earldom of Eoss to the Crown was an arbitrary 
proceeding on the part of King James in. and his Parliament, for, by the 
terms of the charter from David n. in 1370, failing the heirs of Lady 
Euphemia, the elder daughter of William Earl of Eoss, the earldom was 
destined to Lady Johanna, the younger daughter of the Earl, and her heirs. 

If, therefore, Earl John in 1476, on account of his treason and consequent 
forfeiture, was considered dead in civil law as regarded the earldom of Eoss, 
and it was no longer to remain in his family, it would have been more in 
accordance with justice if it had been allowed to descend to the heir of Lady 
Johanna, Sir Alexander Fraser of Philorth, whose right to it was not derived 
in any way from the Lords of the Isles, or from Euphemia, the elder daughter, 
but directly from the Earl, to whom that charter had been granted, through 
Johanna, his younger daughter, and who was not tainted by the treason that 
deprived the elder line of the dignity. 

The Lord of Philorth was not, however, powerful enough to urge his claim 
to the earldom with any hope of success, and it might have been dangerous 
to recall the remembrance of his near connection with so indefatigable a rebel 
and conspirator as John, Lord of the Isles. Perhaps, also, some parts of his 
own father's political conduct were more safely buried in oblivion, and this 
may well account for his not having made any remonstrance on the subject. 

As already noticed, the actual possession of the lands of Auchinshogill, 
Plady, Delgattie, etc., had passed from the Fraser name; but in 1477, Sir 
Alexander Fraser issued a precept to his bailie, William Crauford of Feddrett, 
desiring him to give sasine of those estates to William de Hay of Ardendracht, 
son and heir of Sir Alexander de Hay of Dronlaw, which shows that the 
superiority over them was still vested in the Philorth family. 1 

No distinct account exists as to the event about to be related ; but from 
contingent evidence it appears that during the latter years of his life, while 
on a journey to or from Aberdeen, Sir Alexander Fraser and his cortege were 
waylaid and attacked at the Bridge of Balgounie, which crosses the river Don 
a short distance north of that city, by Alexander Irvine of Drum and his 

1 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. ii. p. 352. 


associates. Two persons, an Alexander Fraser and a George Tailzour, who 
seem to have been dependants, and perhaps kinsmen, of the Lord of Philorth, 
were killed ; and for this outrage, Alexander Irvine had to make compensation. 

This Lord of Drum was pre-eminently turbulent in that not very peaceful 
age, and the royal pardon, afterwards received by him for the attack upon Sir 
Alexander Fraser and his friends, was granted, also, "pro crudeli dismem- 
bratione, et mutilatione, in suo loco de Drum, Domini Edwardi Makdowell, 
capellani;" 1 so that the Lord of Philorth and his friends might congratulate 
themselves on not having met with a similar fate to that of the unfortunate 
priest, or suffered further injury, their safety being doubtless due rather to their 
own stout resistance than to any forbearance on the part of their assailants. 

In 1479, the Lord of Philorth and his son and heir-apparent, Alexander 
Fraser, were witnesses, at Aberdeen, to a precept of sasine granted by Lans- 
lotus Futhas to James Innes of Innes, of the lands of Eothibrisbane ; 2 and in 
the same year he seems to have been successful in a lawsuit, for on the 1 6th 
October, " The Lords Auditoris decretis and deliveris that William Cumyn 
of Cultir sail content and pay to Alexander Fraser of Fillorth, Knight, and James 
Fraser of Mamissy, the sowme of 1 c. pundis of the rest of a mare sowme, 
ocht to them by his obligationne schewin and producit before the Lordis." 3 

Sir Alexander Fraser died in April 1482 ; but his wife, Marjorie Menzies, 
survived him, 4 and on the 17th of April in that year she revoked all writs 
granted by him affecting the lands of Tibberty and Utlaw, in which she had 
been jointly infeft. 

He had six sons by her : — 

Alexander, who succeeded him. 

James, ancestor of the Frasers of Memsie. 6 


These four sons are named in the entail of 1464, but 



p \ John was probably the John Fraser of Ardglassie. 

- nothing further respecting them is known. 
Andrew, ' 


1 Antiquitiesof Aberdeenshire, vol.iiip.298. i Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. 

2 Ibid. vol. ii. p. 328. p. 'JO. 

3 Ibid. vol. i. p. 299. Acta Dom. Audit, p. 90. 6 See Appendix. 




Alexander Fkaser was served heir to his father, Sir Alexander, hy an 
inquest held at Aberdeen on the 8th of May 1482. 1 

He married Lady Margaret de Hay, the daughter of William, first Earl of 
Erroll, probably about 1470, for the lands of Scatterty and Byth, which his 
father had bought in the previous year, were settled upon him and his wife, 2 
and in 1474 he also received the lands of Memsie from his father ; 3 but this 
last estate seems to have been resigned by him in favour of his brother James 
before 1479. 

Little or nothing is on record respecting the career of this Lord of Philorth. 
He appears to have had no inclination or no opportunity to take any share 
in public matters during the lifetime of his more energetic father, and his 
own tenure of the family property was but a very short one. 

Crawfurd, indeed, says that " he was of those barons who were preparing, 
as our historians tell us, to come to the assistance of King James in., when 
he fought the battle of Stirling, without waiting for his northern friends, 
anno 1488 ;" but he gives no authority for this ; and circumstances that will 
appear in the account of his eldest son and successor, render it certain that 
he died in or before the year 1 486. 

By his wife, Lady Margaret de Hay, who survived him, 4 he left three 
sons — 

Alexander, who succeeded him. 

William, who succeeded his brother. 

George, of whose descendants, if there were any, no record remains. 

And perhaps a daughter — 

Janet, married in 1512 to George Baird of Ordinschivas. 

1 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. 3 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. 

p. 90. P- 125. 

- Ibid. vol. iii. p. 530. i Ibid. vol. ii. pp. 402-3. 


ALEXANDEB FBASEE, fifth of Philoeth. 

At an inquest held in Aberdeen on the 4th October 1491, this Alexander 
Fraser was adjudged to be of weak mind, and incapable of managing his 
affairs ; and the verdict went on to declare that he had been in this state for 
the previous five years, but that Ms brother William was careful of his own 
matters, and fully able to manage those of another person, and was then 
seventeen years old. 1 

Sir Walter Ogilvie of Boyne was appointed by the Crown curator or 
guardian of the Laird of Philorth and his estates, and exercised that office 
until 1496, when, at Sir Walter's request, William Fraser, then twenty-two 
years of age, his brother, George Fraser, and John Fraser of Ardglassie, were 
associated with him in the guardianship, 2 which appears from that time to 
have been principally administered by William Fraser. 

There is no information to be obtained as to the origin of this affliction 
under which the fifth Laird of Philorth suffered, whether it were congenital 
or the result of an accident or illness cannot be decided ; but the above 
proceedings were probably taken by his relations to prevent the family 
possessions falling into the hands of others, who had shown some disposition 
to take advantage of his incompetency. 

William, third Earl of Erroll, and Sir Gilbert de Keith of Inverugie, 
purchased the marriage and ward of Alexander Fraser of Philorth from the 
Crown about 1486 (this evinces that his father was then dead, and that he 
was a minor), and the Earl of Erroll sold his share of it to the Thane of 
Cawdor. 3 

The Thane appears to have had the care of the young laird's person, and 
to have endeavoured to turn this to account, for an indenture is extant 
between William, Thane of Cawdor, and Alexander Fraser of Philorth, made 
about 1486-87, by which, after recital of the above-mentioned purchase of 
the marriage and ward, and the transfer of one-half of it, Alexander Fraser 
agrees to marry Margery Calder, the Thane's daughter ; but it is stated that 

1 Philorth Charter-room. Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. p. 91. 

2 Ibid. p. 92. 

3 Book of Thanes of Cawdor, pp. 69, 70. 



because they were god-brother and god-sister to one another, a Papal 
dispensation was necessary. He consents to severe penalties if he should 
fail to perform his engagement, viz., a fine of 300 rnerks to the king ; 300 
merks to the Bishop of Aberdeen, to be employed in building and repairing 
the cathedral ; and 400 merks to Margery Calder for her virginity, and 
loss, skaith, etc. ; in all, 1000 merks ; and he also binds himself to reside 
with the Thane until the dispensation should arrive, and he should marry 
the lady. The indenture concludes thus : — " And becaus the saide Alexander 
Frasser has na seyle present of his awne, he has procurit with instance the 
seyl of ane honorabil lorde, Hew Frasser of the Lowet," and it is signed 
" Alexander Fraser de Fillorth manu propria." 

Mr. Laing, in the second volume of his "Ancient Scottish Seals," No. 389, 
has fallen into the strange error of calling this Laird of Philorth a son of the 
Lord Lovat, whose seal is appended to the indenture. He has been misled 
by this fact, and has made the statement without due caution and inquiry. 

The late Mr. Cosmo Innes, in " The Book of the Thanes of Cawdor," edited 
by him, says that the marriage took place, and that there was issue from 
it. 1 Not being acquainted with the pedigree of the Philorth family, he had 
fair ground for believing this; but the following facts will show him to have 
been mistaken, for though it is possible that the marriage may have been 
solemnised, the Laird of Philorth never had the power to make the settle- 
ments upon Margery Calder, for which he bound himself in the indenture ; 
and from there being no mention of her, nor of him as a married man, in the 
proceedings of the inquest of 1491, or the appointment of his guardians in 
1496, it is more probable that it never occurred. It is most certain that no 
issue of it was in existence at his decease. 

In 1488-89, the Laird of Philorth gave a bond of manrent to William, 
Earl of Erroll, by which he bound himself to be the Earl's man, — as it was 
then termed, — and to serve him truly for three years, in return for his sup- 
port. 2 To this bond, as to the former indenture, he had to affix the seal of an 
acquaintance, who, in this case, was William Cheyne, because he had none of 
his own ; but he signed it in the same manner, " Alexander Fraser manu 

1 Family tree attached to Book of the 2 Miscellany of Spalding Club, vol. ii. p. 

Thanes of Cawdor. 257. 


propria ;" and the desire of obtaining the Earl's assistance against those of 
his relatives that impugned his competency to manage his affairs was pro- 
bably the cause of his entering into the engagement, but it was of no avail, 
and the verdict of 1491, and subsequent proceedings, put an end to his power 
of hurting himself or his family by any follies he might have committed 
since his succession. 

He lived in retirement, but properly taken care of, and maintained 
according to his rank, as is expressly ordered in the appointment of his 
guardians, until the year 1500, when he died, and was succeeded by his 
brother William. 




Bv the verdict of the above-mentioned inquest held at Aberdeen on the 
4th October 1491, William Fraser was said to be seventeen years of age at 
that time, which would place his birth in 1474, or the end of the preceding 
year ; and from 1496, after he had been associated with some of his relatives 
and Sir Walter Ogilvie in the guardianship of his imbecile elder brother, he 
appears to have acted as the representative of the family. 

In 1497, on the 23d of January, as " William Fraser of Fyllorth," he was 
one of the witnesses to a bond of manreut, given at Inverness, by Eobert 
Stewart of Clawak to Alexander Lord Gordoun. 1 

His grandfather purchased the estates of Scatterty and Byth in 1469, 
and held them under the Lord of the Isles, superior of the barony of 
Kinedward. He had settled them upon his eldest son and Lady Margaret 
Hay at the time of their marriage, without obtaining the consent or confir- 
mation of the feudal superior; and they passed to the eldest son of that 
marriage, the fifth Laird of Philorth. 

James Stewart, Earl of Buchan, uterine brother of James in., in 1490 
received a grant of the barony of Kinedward, after the final forfeiture, of John, 
1 Spalding Club Miscellany, vol. iv. p. 191. 


Lord of the Isles, and arraigned this omission in the Court of the barony, 
which adjudged the lands to have lapsed into his hands in consequence of it; 
but upon the payment of a sum of money (probably the fines due for the 
entries, with a penalty), he regranted them to William Fraser in the year 
1495. 1 

Although too young to have been personally engaged in the skirmish at 
the Bridge of Balgounie, it fell to him, in company with John Fraser, James 
Fraser of Memsie, who seem to have been his uncles, James Fraser the bailie, 
William Fraser of the Kirktoun, and others of his kinsmen, to acknowledge 
the receipt of 100 merks from Alexander Irvine of Drum, "for the assithe- 
ment . . . ancle parte off . . . recompensation callit kynbutt, for the offences and 
violence committit ande done be the said Alexander Iruyn and his complices, 
one umquhile Schire Alexander Frasar of Philortht, knicht, and Alexander 
Frasar, his sone ande air, fader to me the said William, till us and utheris, 
our kyne and frendis, at the Brig of Polgony, of the quhilkis ane hundretht 
merkis in pairt of payment of the said offence we hald us weil content, etc. ;"' 2 
and although there is no notice of any other payment, from the tenor of 
the receipt it would seem that the Laird of Drum had to make further atone- 
ment for Ms outrage, possibly in the way of masses for the souls of those 
killed by him or his associates. 

William Fraser was served heir to his brother Alexander in the barony 
of Philorth, by the verdict of an inquest held at Aberdeen on the 10th of 
December 1501, 3 which also declared Alexander to have then been dead 
about a year and a half ; and he married Elizabeth de Keith, daughter of 
Sir Gilbert de Keith of Inverugie, 4 in or before 1494, as their son will be 
seen to have attained majority in 1516. 

In 1502, and the following years, various transactions took place between 
Sir William Fraser, who had received knighthood before that date, and Sir 
Gilbert, son and heir of Sir William de Hay of Ardendracht, respecting the 
lands of Auchinshogill, Plady, Delgattie, etc., the estates given in 1376 by 
Sir Alexander Fraser, first of Philorth, to his brother, Sir John Fraser, which, 

1 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iii. p. 3 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. p. 

529. 94. 

- Ibid. p. 304. * Ibid. vol. ii. p. 404. 


by the failure of his male line, had passed to the Hays, and had been held by 
them as feudatories of the Philorth family ; and though the record of these 
transactions is very meagre, the object of them was probably the purchase of 
the superiority by Sir Gilbert de Hay. 

On the 31st of March 1502, Sir William Fraser resigned these lands into 
the hands of James iv., who thereupon granted them, on the 10th of May 
1503, to Sir Gilbert de Hay, to be held by him and his heirs in chief of the 
Crown. 1 

The price, however, had not then been wholly paid, and Sir Gilbert con- 
veyed some, if not all, of the lands back to Sir William Fraser, under a letter 
of reversion, by which the latter bound himself to restore them, upon pay- 
ment of 500 merks, before Michaelmas 1504, and that sum having been paid 
before the 31st of May in that year, he returned to Sir Gilbert the estates, 
in which all interest of the Philorth family seems to have ceased from that 
time. 2 

Sir Walter de Leslie and Euphemia, Countess of Eoss, had granted the 
lands of Faithlie (afterwards the site of the town of Fraserburgh) and Tyrie 
to Andrew Mercer in 1381, and his descendant, Sir Henry Mercer of 
Aldie, sold them to Sir William Fraser in 1504, to be held for an annual 
payment of 25 merks. 3 

Before 1505, James iv. appears to have claimed the barony of Kynedward, 
as heir and successor of John, Earl of Buchan, killed at Verneuil in 1424, 
who had obtained a charter of it on the resignation of Euphemia the Nun, 
Countess of Boss, which, however, seems to have been inoperative, for the 
barony remained in possession of the Lords of the Isles (also Earls of Boss) 
until the forfeiture of John, Lord of the Isles, about 1490, when it was 
granted by James in. to his uterine brother, James Stewart, created Earl of 
Buchan about 1469, from whom Sir William Fraser received the regrant of 
Scatterty and Byth in 1495. He died before 1500, and although he left male 
issue, James IV. seems, on his death, to have asserted his claim to the barony; 
but being unwilling, so runs the charter, that anything should arise there- 
from to the prejudice of Sir William Fraser in the possession of Scatterty, 

1 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. ii. p. 354. 

- Ibid. p. 356. 3 Ibid. vol. iv. p. 124. 


the King, in 1505, upon Sir William's resignation, regranted the lands to him, 
to be held in chief of the Crown, 1 which property, with the fishings attached 
to it, he soon afterwards sold to Sir John, the son of John Ogilvie of 
Mylnetoun, and the charter of sale was confirmed by the King in 1506. 2 On 
the 11th of October 1505, Sir William Fraser had received a remission for 
resetting, supplying, and intercommuning with sundry of the King's rebels ; 
but there is no record of the occasion upon which he had committed the acts 
for which he was pardoned. 3 Walter Ogilvie, nephew and heir of the late Sir 
Walter Ogilvie of Boyne, with consent of his tutor, Sir William Ogilvie of 
Strathearn, in 1512 resigned the lands of Fetyhede, in the barony of Philorth, 
into the hands of the superior lord, Sir William Fraser, for disposal accord- 
ing to his pleasure. 4 

This sixth Laird of Philorth seems to have been an active man of busi- 
ness. He served on numerous inquests, and was a witness to many documents 
of the period. 5 He died in the autumn of 1513. Crawfurd says at Paris, on 
the 5th September ; but as no other notice of his having gone abroad is to be 
found, and as his son and successor did make a journey to France, which 
Crawfurd does not mention, that author seems to have been misled upon this 
point, and it is more probable that Sir William Fraser was one of the many 
slain at the battle of Flodden, on the 9th of September in that year, whose 
names are not recorded. 

By his wife, Elizabeth de Keith, he left one son — 
Alexander, his successor. 

And in all probability a daughter — 

Christina, married to Andrew Chalmers of Strichen. 




Two years and a half after the death of his father, Sir William, Alexander 
Fraser received sasine of the barony of Philorth by precept from the King's 

1 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. ii. p.. 3 Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, vol. i. p. 104. 
361. 4 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. p.95. 

2 Ibid. vol. iii. p. 530. 5 Ibid, in many documents. 


chapel, addressed to William, Earl of Erroll, then Sheriff of Aberdeenshire, 
and dated April 23, 1516, which shows that he had lately attained to full age, 
as the Earl was to take security from him for the payment of four hundred and 
fifty pounds for the mails of the lands during the time they had been in the 
hands of the Crown, and one hundred and eighty pounds for ward and relief 
of the same. 1 

Sir Lawrence Mercer of Aldie issued a precept to his bailies, John 
Fraser in Ardglassie, and others, in 1518, to infeft Alexander Fraser, son and 
heir of the late Sir William Fraser of Philorth, in the lands of Faithlie and 
Tyrie. 2 

In the Antiquities of Aberdeenshire and Banffshire, the date of this 
precept is erroneously stated as 1418; but this mistake of a century is 
evident from there having been neither a Lawrence Mercer of Aldie, nor an 
Alexander Fraser of Philorth in existence at that date, for Sir Andrew 
Mercer, who first received Faithlie and Tyrie from Sir Walter de Leslie and 
the Countess Euphemia, was succeeded by Sir Michael, who, dying about 
1440, left a son, Sir Andrew, who was succeeded about 1473 by his son, Sir 
Lawrence, whose son, Sir Henry, sold the lands to Sir William Fraser in 
1504, and left a son, a second Sir Lawrence Mercer, the grantor of the pre- 
cept of sasine, 3 while the lands of Philorth were held by a Sir William Fraser 
from 1411 to 1441 at the shortest. 

Crawfurd, upon the authority of a MS. account of the family no longer 
extant, but written, according to him, by Thomas Fraser, a great-grandson of 
this Laird of Philorth, says that Katherine Barclay of Gairntully was his 
wife, and the mother of his children ; 4 and the author of Douglas' Peerage 
has followed Crawfurd as to this, but adds that Katherine Menzies was his 
second wife, though he had no issue by her. 5 Thomas Fraser ought to have 
known the name of his great-grandmother ; but still, as Katherine Barclay's 
name never appears in any document connected with Alexander Fraser, 
seventh of Philorth, while Katherine Menzies will be seen to have been 
the first on the list of executors in his will of date 1532, and to have been his 

1 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. 3 Pedigree of the Family of Mercer of Aldie. 
p. 95. 4 Lives of Officers of State, p. 282. 

2 Ibid. p. 122. 5 Douglas Peerage, vol. ii. p. 474. 


wife in 1556, there is reason to believe that in this statement Thomas was 
in error, and that Katherine Menzies was the only wife of this Alexander 

She was a daughter of Gilbert Menzies of Pitfodels, Provost of Aberdeen, 
and the marriage probably took place about 1516, or soon after that year, as 
several children are mentioned in 1532. 

A royal license, or leave of absence from the king's host, or army, then 
serving at Wark, Solway, and other places on the border, was granted to 
Alexander Fraser of Philorth, and some of his kinsmen and near neighbours, 
in 1527. 1 

Upon Sunday, the 25th of June 1530, Alexander Fraser of Philorth, with 
several other persons, found caution or security that they would " thole a 
great assize for their unjust acquittal of John Dempster of Auchterless, and 
his accomplices, delated for art and part of the cruel slaughter of Patrick 
Stewart and certain persons, and for the mutilation of William Downy;" and 
upon the 5th of August George Gordon of Geicht became surety in 1000 
merks that Alexander Fraser should underlie the law at the next justice 
aire of Aberdeen ; but there is no further notice of the affair to be 
found. 2 

A dispute arose between the burgh of Aberdeen and Alexander Forbes 
of Brux during the summer of 1530, the latter having maltreated some of 
the citizens. 

The Laird of Philorth took the side of his father-in-law, the Provost, in 
this quarrel; and at its termination, in December of that year, he was included 
among those for whose security against violence from any of his family Lord 
Forbes became bound before the Lords of Council at Perth. 

" I, John, Lord Forbes, be the tenour heirof, becummis souerte and law- 
borgh for myself, John, Maister of Forbes, my sone, and the remanent of my 
sonnis, that Gilbert Menzies, Provost of Abirdeine, Alexander Fraser of 
Philorth, Thomas Menzies, Androw Menzies, and all other the said Gilbertis 
sonnis, W m Lyon, and the bailzies, counsall, and communite of the burgh 
of Abirdeine sallbe harmless and skaithless of me, and my saidis sonnis, and 

1 Philorth Charter-room. The other names Miln in Ardmacron, and Robert Miln, his son. 
in the license are John Fraser of Forest, John 2 Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, vol. i. p. 148. 


our seruandis, and all that we may latt in tyme cumming, bot fraude or gyle 
bot as law will, under the pane of fuve thousand pundis, to be paide be me 
to the kingis grace, and his successouris, in case I, my saidis sonnis, or our 
seruandis, or any that we ma latt happen to brek the said lawborowiss in 
tyme to cum," etc. etc. 1 

It may have been in the course of this feud, or in some affray consequent 
upon it, that the Laird of Philorth killed David Scott ; but no information 
is to be found on the subject of this affair, except the record of his having 
appeared on the 8th July before the itinerant court of justice then sitting at 
Aberdeen, and proffered a payment of ten pounds to the nearest relations and 
friends in satisfaction of that homicide, besides providing masses and other 
divine suffrages for the repose of the slain man's soul during a whole year, 
and engaging to undertake such pilgrimage or other penance as the Lords of 
the Council might impose upon him. 2 

He was ordered to perform a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. John of 
Amess, — Amiens, — in France ; and as one of the preparations for an absence 
that was likely to be of some duration, he made his Will and Testament, which 
affords some idea of the personalty of a landed gentleman in those days. 

" Testamentum Alexandei Frasek de Philorth. 

Inuentarium omnium bonorum honorabilis viri, Alexandri Eraser de 
Philorth, factum apud Aberdein . . . tempore sue itinerationis apud Galliam. 
Imprimis fatetur se habere in Pittouly viii xx oves matrices, et ii veruices. 
Item, in agnis, v xx xiiij. 
Item, in Tarwathie, etatis unius, duorum, et trium annorum, xx xx xviij 

Item, in agnis in Tarwathie, viii xx ix. 
Item, in Cairnbulg, xii xx oves matrices, ij veruices. 
Item, in Pettowly, xxviij boves. 
Item, viij vaccas, cum vitulis. 
Item, vi buculos, iiij illorum quinque annorum, ij quatuor annorum. 

1 Council Register of Aberdeen, vol. i. pp. 2 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. 

131-9. p. 96. 



Item, viij bucidos unius anni. 

Item, in Tarwathie, decern boves. 

Item, in buculis, et iuuencis, xlij, et illorum sunt ix unius anni, et 

duorum annorum. 
Item, in Cairnbulg, xxviij boves. 
Item, in vaceis xxiiij, et ix vitulas. 

Item, in buculis, et iuuencis vltra etatem duorum annorum xxix. 
Item, de equis viij. 

Item, de equis qui quotidie laborant vi. 
Item, in victualibus xxx cheldras. 

Item, in debitis que debentur aliis. 

Item, Domino de Stenewod xvi libras. Item, Jobanni Keitb de 
Balmuir xii libras. Item, Vilhelmo Adamsone in Edinburgbt xii libras. 
Item, Johanni Brebuner xl niarcas, et xxv petras. Item, . . . xx libras. 
Item, Vilhelmo Jhonstoune in Doveransyd x marcas, secundum debitum 
computum et rationem. 

Debita que sibi debentur. 

Item, per dominum Comitem de Merchell octinginta mercas pro feodo 
heredis mei. Procautionarij deuenerunt Dominus de Arbutbnat, Gilbertus 
Mengzies de (Pitfodellis), et Thomas Mengzies, heres dictus apparens dicti 

Item, per Valterum Melwein in Craig viii xx marcas pro victualibus. 
Item, per Gilbertum Menzies vii xx marcas in . . . Item, per dictum Gilbertum 
iij xx angelos quod refero Thome et Magistro Jacobo Menzies. Item, per 
. . . Lindsay iiij marcas in . . . Item, per Dominum de Lauristowne, pro tertia 
parte de Aurnehall et tertia parte annui redditus de . . . pro tribus annis. 
Item, per Joannem Stratoune pro tertia parte de Butre, pro spatio quinque 
annoram. Item, per Jacobum Ogiluy pro tertia parte de Butre, pro spatio 
trium annorum. Item, . . . Thome Menzies et me refero . . . dicto Thome. 
Item, in granis crescentibus in Cairnbuilg, Pettowlies et Tarwathie, per 
estimationem et . . . xlvi xx hollas auenarum. Item, in hordio ix xx , et ix 
bollas per estimationem. 


Et ego vero dictus Alexander condo meum testanientuni in hunc modum. 
Item, do et lego animani meam Omnipotenti Deo, et ejus dulcissime genetrici 
Marie, et corpus meum sepeliendum vbi Deus voluerit. 

Item, do et lego bona michi pertinentia, prolibus meis equaliter diui- 
denda, excepta Margareta quia assignaui maritagium Alexandri Cumming 
sibi. Item, constituo Katerinam Menzies, Alexandrum Fraser, filium meum 
primogenitmn, Magistrum Joannem Fraser, Magistrum Adam Duffus, Geor- 
giuni Gordoun de Scbiues, et Magistrum Alexandrum Gallwie rectorem de 
Kinkell meos exequitores superioris testamenti. 

Subscryvit with my awin band, 

Alex r . Feasek of Philoeth." 1 

This description of the state of his affairs shows them in a tolerably 
nourishing condition, the assets being considerably greater than the debts ; 
but the inventory is confined to his personalty without doors, and no mention 
is made of household furniture and effects, of which there was probably 
another schedule that has been lost. 

He also took the precaution of obtaining the following royal letter of 
protection for his estates while he was abroad : — 

" James, be the grace of God, King of Scottis, to all and sindry our 
wardanis, lieutenentis, justices, sheriffis, stewartis, justice clerkis, crovnaris, 
and thare deputis, and all vthiris our officiaris, jugeis, and ministeris of our 
law, spirituale and temporale, liegis, and subditis quham it efferis, quhais 
knaulege thir our lettres sal cum, greting. Forsamekile as our louit, 
Alexander Fraser of Phillorth, is now with our licence, quhilkis we gif and 
grantis to him to pass in France and vthiris partis beyond sey, to do his 
pilgramage at Sanct Johnne of Amess, and vthiris his lefull erandis. Thar- 
for we haue takin, and be thir our lettres takis the said Alexander, and all 
and sindry his lands, heretages, rentis, kirkis, frutis, malis, fermes, teyndis, 
takkis, stedingis, graynges, store places, cornis, catall, possessionis, and gudis, 
movabill and vnmovabill, spirituale and temporale, qukatsumever, quharever 
1 Philorth Charter-room. Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. p. 98. 


thai be, within our realme, or outwith, vnder our speceale protectioun. . . . 
Geviu vnder our priue sele, at Edinburgh, the first day of Februare, the yeire 
of God j m v c xxxi yeris, and of our regne the xix yeire." 1 

It is doubtful how long the Laird of Philorth was absent from his own 
country, but he seems to have spent several years abroad, for the above royal 
letter of protection is said to have been published at the town crosses of 
Aberdeen and Banff in September 1535 ; and yet he appears to have returned 
before that time, as on the 15th June 1534 a Papal dispensation was obtained 
for the marriage of his son and heir, Alexander, to Beatrice, daughter of 
Eobert de Keith, Master of Marischal. 2 

The Peerages by Crawfurd and Douglas state that this lady was a 
daughter of the third Earl Marischal ; but the dispensation proves that his 
eldest son was her father, and if the statement in Douglas' Peerage that he 
was killed at Flodden Field in 1513 be correct, she must have been several 
years older than her husband, who could hardly have been born before 
1516-17. The marriage seems to have been solemnised soon after, as the 
young couple had a charter of the lands of Tibberty granted to them on the 
6th May 1535. 3 

The Laird of Philorth had obtained the maritagium of Alexander 
Cumming of Inverallochy, which he assigned as a portion to his daughter 
Margaret; and accordingly, before 1539, the young lady had become the wife 
of the young gentleman whose hand was in her own gift, and they had a 
son, William Cumming, who succeeded his father in Inverallochy before 

After his return from his wanderings abroad, the Laird of Philorth, 
in July 1537, was a member of the Court that tried John seventh Lord 
Glamis for high treason, in not having revealed the plots of his mother, 
Lady Glamis, against the life of James v. Lord Glamis was convicted 
and sentenced to death, but being under age, he was respited until he should 
attain majority. Meanwhile the informer against him confessed that his 
accusation was false, and Lord Glamis was released, but did not get back 

1 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. p. 3 Eeg. Mag. Sig., Lib. xxv. No. 192. 

99. 4 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. p. 

2 Philorth Charter-room. 6S3-4. 


his estates until he brought an action for their recovery. 1 In 1542 Alexander 
Fraser received from James v. a charter of the whole fishings, " et piscium 
escula, vulgo lie fische bait," opposite his lands of Cairnbulg, Faithlie, 
Pitcarlie, and Coburty, 2 and in the nest year he was engaged in some litiga- 
tion with the Sheriff of Banff, which is only worth notice on account of a 
royal Act obtained by him, under the signature of the Earl of Arran, Pro- 
tector and Governor of the realm for the infant Queen, to withdraw the 
tenants of his land of Utlaw, etc., in that county, from the jurisdiction of the 
Sheriff, so long as the lawsuit should continue. 3 

He seems to have been a man of considerable energy and intelligence, 
and to have devoted himself to the improvement of his estate and the acqui- 
sition of further possessions, having a keen eye for the natural advantages 
offered by the configuration of the sea coast, and in pursuance of these objects 
he is found from time to time obtaining royal grants and confirmations. 

In 1546, on account of his having constructed a convenient harbour at 
Faithlie, and for other good services, he received a royal charter, erecting that 
place into a free burgh of barony, with the usual privileges to the burgesses, 
and authority to hold markets, and to practise various trades, etc., 4 which con- 
cession seems to have given much umbrage to the authorities and people of 
the town of Aberdeen ; for in the Council Eegister of that city there is an 
entry to the effect that in 1564 "the haill town being warnit, etc. etc., 
grantit and consentit to pursew to the final end the action and cause movit 
and persewit be thame against Alexander Fraser of Philorth anent the 
privilege usurpit be him of ane fre burght in the toune of Faithly, contrar 
the libertie and priveleges of this burght, presently dependan before the 
Lords of Council." 5 

This opposition, however, proved as unavailing to arrest the establish- 
ment of the burgh of Faithlie as were efforts of a similar nature to prevent 
the rise of its successor, Fraserburgh, at a later period. 

The acquisition of lands in the neighbourhood made by the seventh 
Laird of Philorth was very considerable. In 1549 he purchased the Muircroft 

1 Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, vol. i. p. 199. 4 Philorth Charter-room. Antiquities of 

2 Philorth Charter-room. Aberdeenshire, voL iv. p. 645. 

3 Philorth Charter-room. 5 Council Eegister of Aberdeen, vol. i. p. 356. 


of Kirkton Tyrie, together with the superiorities of Ardlaw and Bodychell, 
which last estates had been sold by his ancestor, Sir William Eraser, in 
1418, and had by annexation formed a part of the barony of Borthwick, and 
they were erected into a barony of New Muircroft by a royal charter in his 
favour. 1 About 1552-3 he exchanged part of his lands of Coburty with 
John Forbes of Pitsligo, for those of Pittalochy, 2 and bought the estate of 
Meikle Crichie from George Crawford of Fedderat ; 3 and in 1560 he pur- 
chased Tulykeraw, Blair Mormond, and Park of Crimond from William 
Hay of Ury and Crimond, 4 and received from Gilbert Menzies sasine of 
24 merks of annualrent out of the lands of Cowlie. 5 

Upon the 12th October 1556, in consequence probably of some family 
arrangements, he obtained, under the Great Seal of Queen Mary, a charter of 
the lands of Kinglasser and Mill of Philorth, in favour of himself and his 
wife, Katherine Menzies, which is only of importance as evidence of that 
lady having been his wife down to that date. 6 

The Laird of Philorth was one of an inquest that served a certain Bobert 
Gordon heir to his " gudschir " John Gordon. It would seem that this 
service was proved to be contrary to fact, and the Lords of Council found the 
members of the inquest guilty of wilful error, and, according to the law in 
such cases, decreed the escheat of their moveable goods to the Crown ; but he 
was relieved from this penalty by the gift of the escheat to him under the 
sign-manual of the Queen Begent, on the 13th January 1555. 7 

His daughter, Christiana, having married William Crawford of Fedderat, 
nephew and heir of the George Crawford from whom he had bought Meikle 
Crichie, he settled that property upon the young couple in 1561. 

In 1564 he had to mourn the death of his eldest son, Alexander, whose 
marriage to Lady Beatrix de Keith has been already recorded, and who had 
by her four sons — 

Alexander, who succeeded his grandfather. 

Walter, who obtained the lands of Bathhilloch. 8 

1 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. p. 6 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iii. p. 

646. 72. 

" Ibid. p. 648. e Ibid. vol. iv. p. 645. 

3 Ibid. p. 577. 7 Ibid. p. 100. 

4 Ibid. p. 635. 8 See Appendix. 


John, who got those of Quarrelbuss. 1 

Andrew, a witness to the sasine of his brother Alexander in 1570, but of 
whom nothing more is known. 3 

The Laird of Philorth was by this time well advanced in life, but he 
seems to have preserved his energy and activity in prosecuting his plans for 
the increase of his property to his latest years, for in April 1568 he bought 
the sunny halves of Kindrocht and Denend, in the parish of Eathen, from 
his grandson, William Cumyn of Inverallochy ; and the charter of sale was 
confirmed by James VI. in the succeeding year, a few days after the death of 
the purchaser. 3 

Alexander Fraser, the seventh possessor of Philorth, died on the 12th 
April 1569, being above seventy years of age, and having led an active and 
useful life, constantly engaged in improving and adding to his family estates. 
Tradition ascribes to him the building of the lower and more modern portion 
of the castle or manor-place of Philorth, which at a later date received the 
name of Cairnbulg Castle; but the great square tower or keep is of far more 
ancient date, and may have been built by the Comyns, Earls of Buchan, 
before their forfeiture in 1308, or even by some still older family, for there 
is no record of its erection : unfortunately the whole edifice is now only a 
picturesque ruin. 

He had four sons and two daughters — 

Alexander, who died in his father's lifetime, leaving four sons, already 

William, ancestor of the Frasers of Techrnuiry. 4 

Thomas. See Frasers of Strichen. 5 

John. 6 

Margaret, married, 1st, Alexander Cumyn of Inverallochy ; 2d, Alexander 
Annand of Ochterellon, and died in 1602. 7 

Christiana, married William Crawford of Fedderat. 

1 See Appendix. 4 See Appendix. 

2 Philorth Charter-room. Antiquities of 5 Xbicl. 
Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. p. 104. 

3 Philorth Charter-room. Antiquities of • 

Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. p. 6S3. 7 Monument in Ellon Church. 


SIE ALEXANDER FEASEE, eighth of Philorth, 

Founder of Fraserburgh. 



In consequence of his grandfather's energetic and careful management of 
the family property, the eighth Laird of Philorth succeeded to a very con- 
siderable estate. 

The date of his birth may be placed about the year 1537. He received 
a liberal education, and is said to have pursued his studies at Edinburgh. 

About the year 1559 he married Magdalen, the daughter of Sir Walter 
Ogilvie of Dunlugus, when his grandfather settled the lands of Pittalochy 
upon them; and he succeeded to Pittulie in 1564, on the death of his 
father, who had enjoyed that estate under his marriage- settlement as heir- 
apparent. 1 

Under the designation of Alexander Fraser of Pettowleis, — Pittulie, — he 
witnessed William Cumyn's charter of sale of the sunny halves of Kindrocht 
and Denend in 1568 ; 2 and in the following year, under the same designa- 
tion, he was served heir to his grandfather, and he received sasine of the 
barony of Philorth, and the other family estates, by royal precept, dated March 
1% n "|23, 1570. 3 

He had probably been fully conversant with his grandfather's efforts for 
the development of the town and harbour of Faithlie ; but at all events, 
immediately after his succession, he began to carry out those designs with 
even greater vigour and perseverance. 

On the 6th March 1570 he laid the foundation stone of a castle on 
Kinnaird Head, said to be the Promontorium Taixalium of Ptolemy, which 
was afterwards called the Castle of Fraserburgh ; and in the next year he 
built a new church a short distance from it. 

He then commenced the important operation of founding a new town 

1 Reg. Mag. Sig., Lib. xxxii. No. 504. Spalding Miscellany, vol. v. p. 35S. 

2 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. p. 683. 

3 Ibid. p. 101. 


upon the site of the recently created burgh of Faithlie, and his designs in 
this undertaking were of a very enlarged and enlightened nature for that age 
and that part of Scotland, and he seems to have contemplated the foundation 
of a' great city that should one day become the emporium of an extensive 
commerce, and also a seat of learning and science. 

Although his aspirations were of a far grander nature than attendant cir- 
cumstances might warrant, or the means at his disposal could enable him to 
carry into effect, yet, mistaken or not, his was a noble ambition, and the effort 
to promote the prosperity of that part of the country by the civilising influ- 
ences of education and commerce showed an intelligence and public spirit 
certainly in advance of the age in which he lived, and deserving of all praise. 

The bold and rocky promontory of Kinnaird Head is situated at the north- 
eastern angle of Aberdeenshire, the coast trending directly westward on one 
side, and towards the south-east on the other, it forms the northern boundary 
of a bay (anciently called the bay of Philorth) facing the north-east, and ter- 
minated at its other extremity by a reef of rocks projecting in that direction 
from Cairnbulg point. The coast is rocky for about half a mile southward 
from Kinnaird Head, after which sand-hills or " dunes" continue round the bay 
for about a mile and a half, until within a short distance of the Cairnbulg reef. 

The position of the town of Faithlie was in the north-western corner of 
the bay, close under Kinnaird Head, which sheltered it on the north, and in 
some degree on the north-east. 

To quote Crawfurd, the Laird of Philorth " continued to beautifie and 
inlarge the town with public buildings and fine streets," some of which were 
40 feet broad, an unusual width in those days ; and on the 9th of March 1576 
he laid the first stone of a new harbour, " in nomine Patris, Filii, et Spiritus 
Sancti." 1 

Upon his resignation of all his possessions into the royal hands for reinfeft- 
ment, Alexander Fraser received a charter of them from James vi. on the 9th 
of April 1588, in which a grant of novodamus was inserted erecting Faithlie 
into a free port and burgh of barony, and granting to him and his heirs the 
advowson and patronage of the churches of Philorth, Tyrie, and Crimond. 2 

1 Lives of Officers of State, p. 283. 

2 Philorth Charter-room. Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. p. 649, et seq. 



Still vigorously pressing on his enterprise, on the 1st of July 1592 he 
obtained from the king another charter of all the lands and privileges 
granted in 1588, to which were added the estate of Inverallochy, recently 
acquired by him ; and a grant of novodamus creating Faithlie a burgh of 
regality, with a free port, and ordaining that the same shall in all time coming 
be called the burgh and port de Fraser, and also authorising him to build 
a college or colleges, and to found an university in the said burgh, that should 
enjoy as ample rights, privileges, and immunities as those of any other uni- 
versity in the kingdom, with power to him and his heirs to appoint and remove 
the masters, teachers, and officials of the university, and to enact and cause to 
be obeyed such rules and regulations as might be necessary for its government. 

This authority for the foundation of an university was confirmed by Act 
of Parliament on the 16th of December 1597, and the whole teinds and 
emoluments of the churches of Philorth, Tyrie, Crimond, and Eathen were 
granted for its support, under burden of providing for divine service in them ; 
and on the 4th of April 1601, by a third charter, James vi. ratified and con- 
firmed to Sir Alexander Fraser and his heirs all the grants mentioned in the 
two former of 1588 and 1592, with all the extensive powers and privileges 
conferred by them. 

In virtue of the authority thus bestowed upon him, Sir Alexander Fraser 
entered into a contract with the feuars of Fraserburgh in the year 1613, 
appointing a Baron Bailie and Town Council, with other officials ; and this 
contract, as modified from time to time by agreement between his descendants, 
the heritable Provosts, and the feuars of Fraserburgh, controls the govern- 
ment of the burgh at the present day. 

The opposition attempted by the town of Aberdeen to the establishment 
of the burgh of Faithlie in 1564 appears to have been greatly stimulated by 
the founding of Fraserburgh. 

On the 10th of March 1573, the Provost, Bailies, and Council of Aberdeen 
sent a petition to the Begent by the hands of their commissioner, Mr. Patrick 
Menzies, complaining of the lading of a Flemish ship within the port of 
Faithlie, " in hurt and prejudice of the privilege of this burght, comoditie, 
and jurisdictionne of the samen;" 1 and in the year 1605 the same authorities 

1 Council Register of Aberdeen, vol. ii. p. 10. 

Q O q co 






- s 


< CO 

t => 

5 o 

co ,_ 






of Aberdeen raised an action before the Court of Session for the purpose of 
obtaining a declarator that the privileges of trade, etc., granted to that town 
by former monarchs, included the whole sheriffdom or county of Aberdeen, 
and that therefore the creation of Fraserburgh as a burgh of regality and free 
port was illegal. 1 Their object appears to have been to obstruct the ratifica- 
tion of the royal charters by Act of Parliament, on the ground of the action 
being still undecided, and for that purpose they sent one of their burgesses, 
Mr. James Mowat, to Edinburgh, and seem to have spent considerable sums 
of money in following up the lawsuit, so that in the year 1606 they had suc- 
ceeded in procuring letters of horning against Sir Alexander and his tenants of 
Fraserburgh, charging them to " desist and ceas from vsing any merchandice, 
packing, or peilling within the said towne, or hauldin of oppin buiths thairin, 
vsing or vsurping the libertie of frie burgesses of gild in tyme coming." 

Sir Alexander Fraser resisted this somewhat selfish and tyrannical con- 
duct, and managed to obtain letters of suspension against those of horning ; 
and the lawsuit appears to have dragged on until the year 1616, when, in 
spite of resolutions passed at a rather stormy meeting, convened by Thomas 
Menzies. then Provost of Aberdeen, that it was " verie necessar and expedient 
that the saide actioune sail be prosequite and followit out cairfullie and 
diligentlie," it seems to have been abandoned, and Fraserburgh was left in 
the peaceful enjoyment of its privileges. 2 

Such is the record of the birth of Fraserburgh, and although the magnifi- 
cent aspirations of its founder have not been realised, — although the projected 
university was but nominally established, and the college that was built soon 
became diverted from its original purpose, — although the feudal castle on 
the commanding but exposed elevation of Kinnaird Head was abandoned by 
his descendants for a more sheltered residence, and now performs the useful 
part of a lighthouse to guide vessels around that dangerous coast, yet much 
of the practically beneficial fruit of Sir Alexander Fraser's labour and ex- 
penditure remains to the present day ; and the harbour, much improved and 
enlarged, and capable of infinitely greater development as a harbour of refuge, 
affords shelter to the ships engaged in the commerce of a thriving seaport, 
containing above 5000 inhabitants ; and in the season of the herring-fishery, 
1 Council Register of Aberdeen, vol. ii. pp. 279, 2S4. 2 Ibid. p. 336. 


from June to September, is filled with a numerous fleet of boats from all parts 
of the coast, during which time the population of the town is about trebled. 

Crawfurd has placed on record a Latin epigram by Mr. David Battray, 
then minister of Philorth, who thus, according to the fashion of the age, cele- 
brated the institution of the burgh : — 

" Hoc tibi Fraseria populis Eex curia nomen, 
Hoc dedit a proavis nobile nomen eques ; 
Vive diu felix, vero pietatis amore : 
Vive memor tanti nominis usque tui." 1 

Which may be rendered into English in the following words : — 

The King, Fraserburgh ! has given to thee 
A name, through ages known to knightly fame. 

Long flourish thou ! upheld by piety ; 

And aye be mindful of thine honoured name. 

The origin of Fraserburgh seemed of sufficient importance to warrant it 
being presented in a continuous narrative, and the more private history of the 
founder of that good burgh may now be resumed. 

The eighth Laird of Philorth appears to have adopted the tenets of the 
Eeformation, and to have adhered to the party supporting them during the 
troubled reign of Mary Queen of Scots. 

The Earl of Morton, after his appointment to the Eegency in 1572, among 
other wise measures for quieting the kingdom, committed some of the most 
notorious Border freebooters to the custody of those in the north of Scotland 
in whom he could confide, to be kept in a sort of honourable captivity at a 
distance from the scene of their former misdeeds ; but having received addi- 
tional security for their future good behaviour, he issued orders for their 
release in 1575, of which the following letter to the Laird of Philorth is one, 
and a similar letter, word for word (except the name of the prisoner), and of 
the same date, was addressed to the Laird of Arbuthnot, and probably to 
other gentlemen, which shows that the measure was a general one : — 

" Eycht tkaist freind, — Efter our hairtlie commendationis. We haue 
laitlie ressauit new plegeis of the brokin men inhabiting the Bordouris, 
1 Lives of Officers of State, p. 2S3. 


quhilkis we haue directit to be kepit in vther places ; and thairefore it is 
our will, and we desire zow that ze let to libertie and fredome Johnne Baty, 
callit Johnne of the Corss, now being in zour cumpany and custody, that he 
may depairt hame to his duelling place or freindis at his pleasour, quhairvnto 
thir presentis sail serue zow for sufficient warrand. Sua we commit zow to 
God. At Halyruidhous, the xx day of December 1575. 

" Your assuirit freind, 

"To our traist freind the Laird of Phillorth." 1 

In 1583, Sir Alexander bought the third part of ^aithlie, near Tyrie, from f 
Eobert Innes of Kinkell ; and he completed his grandfather's purchase of 
Kindrocht and Denend by buying the remaining or shady halves of those 
lands from George Gordon in the following year. 2 

Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, who succeeded his father about 1576-7, when 
a mere child, passed a somewhat wild and unruly minority, that gave little 
promise of the good sense and estimable qualities which distinguished his 
future career. In 1586 he ran away from King's College, in Aberdeen, where 
his education was conducted, and went to Ireland, where, after a few months, 
his uncle and guardian, Thomas Fraser of Knockie and Strichen, heard that 
he was enjoying the hospitality of the Earl of Antrim. Strichen, apprehen- 
sive that he might do something to injure the interests of his family, prevailed 
upon him to execute, on the 15th of September 1587, an inhibition against 
his doing, directly or indirectly, anything that should hurt or lessen his estate 
or prejudice his heirs, without the consent and advice of certain curators 

1 Philorth Charter-room. 

- Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. pp. 649, 683. 


appointed, or any three of them, among whom Alexander Fraser of Philorth 
was one. 1 

The poverty of the exchequer of James VI. before his accession to the 
throne of England is matter of history ; and the following letter, which is one 
of those addressed by him to his more wealthy subjects, not long before his 
marriage with Anne of Denmark, shows to what shifts the poor King was 
reduced to provide funds, even for a purpose of such public interest. 

" Traist Freind, — We greit zow weill. Mynding with all celeritie to direct 
ambassadouris for prosecutioun of the mater of our mareage, and wanting 
present moyen of our awin to furneis thame according to the honour and 
necessitie of that erand, we are forceit to have recourse to the favourable 
guid will of some specialis of our nobilitie, baronis, and vthers our loving 
subiectis best affectit to our weill and furtherance of our honourabill adois, 
of the quhilk nowmer [accjompting zow as ane we haif send this beirair to 
lay out vnto zow baith our intentioun and necessitie foirsaid, and to 
require zow in our name, as we do maist effectuuslie, that at this tyme, 
and in this purpois, tending sa heachlie to our weill, and to the weill of our 
haill realme sa mony wayes, ze will conforme to that advancement, and 
sowme quhairwith we haif commanded him to burden zow to the said vse 
contenit in his roll subscriuit with our hand, to be richt thankfullie refoundit 
to zow of the first and reddiest of our taxatioun of j° thousand lib., appointed 
be the commissioneris nominat to that effect be our lait act of Parliament, 
ze kepand this present, togidder [with] the resaverris tikket for gour warrand. 
Thus trusting to zour obedience, we commit zow to God, frome Halyruid- 
hous, the vij day of Apryle 1588. 

To our Traist Freind, The Laird of Phillorth." 2 

1 Anderson, History of the Family of Fraser, pp. 95, 96. 

2 Philorth Charter-room. 


George, sixth Earl of Himtly, who had received a commission to pursue 
the rebel Earl of Bothwell on the 8th February 1591-2, took advantage of 
the power thus conferred upon him to attack and burn the house of Doni- 
bristle, and to murder (not without the suspected connivance of James vi.) the 
"bonny" Earl of Moray, whose beauty and gallant bearing had been praised 
by the queen, with somewhat imprudent earnestness, in her husband's hearing. 

The Earl of Huntly afterwards surrendered himself, and was imprisoned 
for a time, but was at length dismissed without trial Entering, however, into 
treasonable correspondence with Spain, he was again required to surrender, 
and, refusing to do so, was forfeited; 1 and upon the 9th of March 1592-3 
a commission was issued to George, fifth Earl Marischal, constituting him 
his Majesty's commissioner in the counties of Kincardine, Aberdeen, and 
Banff, " to pas, searche, seek, and tak " George, Earl of Huntly, William, 
Earl of Angus, Francis, Earl of Errol, and their accomplices, for the treason- 
able fire-raising and burning of the place of Dynnibirsell, and murder of 
umq 11 James, Earl of Moray. One of the persons named as " counsallouris 
to the said Erll, be quhais advise, or any thrie of thame conjunctly, he and 
his deputis sail proceed," was Alexander Fraser of Philorth. 

Alexander Fraser is said to have been one of those that attended at the 
baptism of Prince Henry on the 30th of August 1594, and to have received 
the honour of knighthood from the king's hand on that occasion ; 2 and in 
1596 Sir Alexander Fraser of Fraserburgh, as he was styled, and John Leslie 
of Balquhain, were unanimously elected commissioners to Parliament for the 
county of Aberdeen. 3 

His eldest son and heir- apparent, Alexander, married Margaret, daughter 
of George de Abernethy, seventh Lord Saltoun, in 1595, and Sir Alexander 
settled the estate of Pittulie upon the young couple. 

He received a more familiar and rather curious letter from the king in the 
year 1596. 

" Bight Traist Fkeind, — We greit zou hartlie wele. Heiring that 
ze haue ane gyirfalcoun, quhilk is esteamit the best halk in all that 

1 Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, vol. i. p. 284. 

2 Orawfurrt, Lives of Officers of State, p. 2S3. 

3 Aberdeen Sheriff-Court Records. 


countrie, and meatest for ws, that lies sa gude lyking of that pastyme ; 
we haue thairfoir taikin occasioun effectuuslie to requeist and desyre 
zou, seing halkis ar bot gifting geir, and na vthiruise to be accompted 
betuixt ws and zou, being sa wele and lang acquented, that of courtessye ze 
will bestow on ws that zour halk, and send hir heir to ws with this berar, 
our seruand, quhom we haue anis earand directed to bring and carye hir 
tentilie. Quhairin as ze sail report our hartlie and speciall thankis, sa sail 
ze find ws reddy to requite zour courtessye and gudwill with na lesse plesour 
in any the lyke sutes, as occasioun sail present. Thus resting persuaidit of 
zour plesouring ws heiranent, we commit zou in Godis protectioun. From 
Perth, the Fiffc of Marche 1596. 1 


" To our richt traist freind, The Larde of Phillorth." 

No doubt the king got the " halk" which he so " effectuuslie requeisted;" 
but it is amusing to see how plainly, and yet courteously, he intimated his 
wish that it should be made a present to him. 

A third letter from James VI. to Sir Alexander Fraser is extant. 

"Eicht Traist Freind, — We greit zou hertlie wele. Being taiking 
ordour heir with the complaintis of our pure people, amang the rest it is 
heavilie meanit ws be this pure berare, callit Alexander Bruce, that zour 
seruand William Cheyne is awand to him the sowme of four scoir merkis 
xxxiij s iiij d. money of our realme, for a pece of land quhilk he had in 
wodsett, quhilk be his letteris obligatouris schawin to ws he wes obleist to 
pay at Witsunday 1598 zeiris, and notwithstanding postponis and deferris 
to do the samen, to the pure manis vtter wrak and vndoing. We haue 
thairfoir thocht gude to will and desire zou to caus the said William, zour 
seruand, satisfie this pure cumpliner of the said sowme, justlie addettit be 
him, sa that we be nocht fasched with forder complaint in that matir, as ze 

1 Philorth Charter-room. 


tender our obedience and plesour. Sua we commit zou to God. From 
Perth, the last of Junij 1602. 1 


" To our richt traist freind, The Laird of Phillorth." 

Although there is no record of the death of Magdalen Ogilvie, Sir 
Alexander's first wife, she did not survive the year 1606. He married, 
secondly, in the month of June 1606, or soon thereafter, 2 Dame Elizabeth 
Maxwell, Lady Lochinvar, eldest daughter of Sir John Maxwell, Lord Hemes, 
the firm friend of Queen Mary. Lady Lochinvar was so styled as the wife 
of Sir John Gordon of Lochinvar, whom she married in 1563. He died on 
23d August 1604. The mother of Lady Lochinvar was Agnes Hemes, Lady 
Hemes, who, in her will, dated at Terregles, on 13th March 1593, left to the 
Lady Lochinvar, her daughter, her new " black louse weluout gowne." 3 
Lady Lochinvar obtained right to lands in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright by 
charter from her brother, William Maxwell, Lord Herries, in 1588 ; and she 
obtained a judicial transumpt of the sasine in her favour on 3d September 
1614. In the judicial proceedings she is styled Dame Elizabeth Maxwell, 
Lady Lochinvar, and Sir Alexander Fraser of Fraserburgh, Knight, her 
spouse. 4 Lady Lochinvar and Philorth predeceased her second husband, Sir 
Alexander, for in his will he termed her " my umquhill spous." 5 

Sir Alexander Fraser had hitherto lived in happiness and prosperity ; but 
his declining years were clouded by pecuniary embarrassment, from the 
pressure of the heavy debts which he had incurred in the prosecution of his 
enthralling project of founding the town of Fraserburgh ; and the record of 
the remainder of his life consists of little more than an enumeration of the 
many and severe sacrifices that he and his eldest son were forced to make for 

1 Philorth Charter-room. 3 Minutes of Evidence in Herries Peerage, 

2 Bond by Sir Alexander Fraser of Fraser- p. 62. 

burgh, Knight, in reference to his marriage, 4 Ibid. p. 343. 

31st May 1606, at Kenmure. 5 Philorth Charter-room. 



the discharge of those obligations, which reduced the family possessions to a 
very considerable extent. 

It is neither agreeable nor easy to follow these transactions in all their 
minutiae ; but a short and general statement of the circumstances is neces- 

During the first few years of the seventeenth century his creditors began 
to press Sir Alexander Fraser, and to institute proceedings at law for the 
recovery of their claims. 

In 1608 he resigned to his son and heir, Alexander, a considerable portion 
of his property, the latter either paying his debts, or, more probably, becoming 
security for the payment of them ; but this measure was not effectual, and 
he had shortly afterwards to apply for assistance to other kinsmen and 
friends. 1 

By various deeds, of date from the years 1608 to 1616, Simon Fraser 
Lord Lovat, the same to whom he had been one of the guardians appointed 
in 1587, George Ogilvie of Carnousie, his son Sir George Ogilvie, and William 
Forbes of Tolquhoun, were constituted trustees of his whole estates, with the 
exception of those settled upon his eldest son, for the purpose of selling, with 
his consent, such parts of the property as might be necessary for the payment 
of his liabilities, and of infefting his eldest grandson in all that could be saved 
of the family possessions. 2 

In pursuance of this arrangement, he and his trustees, in 1615 and 1616, 
sold the lands of Inverallochy to Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat ; those of 
Kindrocht, Denend, and the third part of Saithlie, with Easter Tyrie, to 
Thomas Fraser of Strichen; and the lands of Cairnbulg and Invernorth, 
with a piece of land where stood the old manor-place of Philorth, at which 
he had ceased to reside after building Fraserburgh Castle, to Alexander 
Fraser of Durris and his son Eobert, to whom he had granted them in pledge 
three years previously ; but this last sale was made under certain restrictions, 
and upon the following conditions : — 

First, that Alexander Fraser of Durris and his son Eobert should not 
part with the lands of Cairnbulg and Invernorth during the lifetime of Sir 
Alexander Fraser, or of Alexander Fraser of Durris, under a penalty of 
1 Philorth Charter-room. 2 Ibid. 


£10,000, payable to Sir Alexander or his assignee; and secondly, that if 
Robert Fraser should wish to sell these lands after the decease of his father 
and of Sir Alexander, he should be bound to offer them to the heirs of Sir 
Alexander Fraser, or to any person he might nominate, bearing the name and 
arms of the family of Philorth, for the sum of fifty-seven thousand merks ; 
and upon the refusal of that person to purchase, that he should be bound to 
offer them to the Lord Lovat, after him to Fraser of Strichen, and then to 
Fraser of Muchall, at such price as could be agreed upon, or as such land was 
worth at the time ; and if they all refused to buy, that he should then have 
power to sell to whomsoever he chose. 1 

The Laird of Durris did not perform his part of this bargain, for, being 
deeply in debt to Fraser of Muchall, he sold him, during the lifetime of Sir 
Alexander Fraser, those lands which (in spite of an attempt on the part of Sir 
Alexander's grandson to set aside the sale and recover possession of them) 
then ceased to belong to the family, and in the lapse of time became the 
property of persons unconnected with the Fraser name, while the old 
manor-place of Philorth received the appellation of Cairnbulg Castle from 
the adjacent estate of that name, with which it was sold. 

On her marriage, in 1606, to Sir Alexander Fraser, Dame Elizabeth 
Maxwell, Lady Philorth, appears to have been infefted in liferent in the 
lands of Cairnbulg. In order to protect her liferent right to these lands in 
the event of her surviving Sir Alexander Fraser, she made a protestation on 
5th June 1613 in presence of Eobert Fraser, sometime apparent of Durris, 
now of Cairnbulg, that no disposition of these lands should be prejudicial to 
her liferent right. 2 

The liabilities of Sir Alexander Fraser having been to a certain extent, 
if not altogether, met by these and other sacrifices of property, in 1620 
he resigned the whole lands and barony of Philorth into the hands 
of the Eoyal Commissioners for new infeftment to be granted to Alex- 
ander, the eldest son of his heir-apparent, Alexander Fraser, by Margaret 
Abernethy, whom he terms his oy, or grandson ; who, as will be seen, 
succeeded to this portion of the estates during his father's life, by consent 
of the latter to such arrangement ; but Sir Alexander appears to have 

1 Philorth Charter-room. 2 Original Protestation at Kenmnre. 


enjoyed the usufruct during his few remaining years, which he seems to 
have passed at his castle of Kinnaird Head, or at a house that he had in 
Edinburgh. 1 

He retained his mental faculties to the latest year of his long life, and this 
is evident from his having made his will upon the 12th July 1623, within a 
few days of his death, when he must have been eighty- five or eighty-six 
years of age. 

By this deed he disponed his personal property in favour of Alexander 
Eraser, called his nephew, meaning thereby his grandson, which the word 
nephew or nephoy generally imports in ancient writings. This reading of 
the description nephew is confirmed by the testament itself, which mentions 
" Alex r Fraser, my nephew," and " Andro Fraser, son to umquhill Walter 
Fraser, my brother." 

The document commences thus — 

" The Testament, letter Vill, and Legacie of S r Alex r Fraser of Fraser- 
burghe, kny*, maid be himselff 12 of Julij 1623 zeiris, Befor thir vitnesses, 
Alex r Fraser, my nephew, Andro Fraser, sone to umquhill Walter Fraser, my 
broth [erl , Alex r Fraser, and Alex r Harper, my servitouris. 

Written be M r William Forbes, Minister." 

After lists of his debts and assets, the latter consisting principally of 
rents for 1621 and 1622, and arrears of feu-duties, which are signed by Sir 
Alexander Fraser, there follows : — 

" My Legacie. 
" Imprimis, I leiu to my nephew, Alex r Fraser, my haill goldsmyth wark, 
whilkis was takin away be my umquhill spous, Dame Elizabeth Maxwell, and 
hir sone, James Gordoune. Item, I lieu to my said nephew all right and 
title that I had or micht hawe to the tearce and coniunct-fee of my umquhill 
spous, Elizabeth Maxwell. Item, I leiu to the said Alex r , my nephew, my 
kist in Edinburghe, and my clothis and vther thingis conteaned therein. Item, 
I leiu to him my Courtingis, Nepperie, Cuschingis, and vther plenisching of 
my hous, which my said umquhill spous, Elizabeth Maxwell, had in keiping. 
Item, I leiu to the said Alex r Fraser, my nephew, my buikis and plenisching 

1 PhUortk Charter-room. 


of my hous, as Weschell, ISTeppirie, Bedis, burdis, bedding, my clothis, and all 
vther thingis belonging to me witbin tbis hons of Kinnerds beid ; my siluer 
wark also qubatsumewer. Item, I leiu to him all pleniscbing belonging to 
me in tbe Bredsie or any place qubatsumewer. Item, I leiu to bim my hors, 
nolt, and scbeip qubatsumewer, and I ordein tbe said Alex r , my nepbew, to 
intromet witb tbe geir abou written, and my boussis, wbow sone soewer it 
sail pleis tbe Lord to call me out of tbis present Lyff ; and I, abowe all tbingis, 
I exbort him to set his hart to feir God, and to doe his dewtie to all men, and 
to dowe wrong to no man, and to follow tbe adwyse of thes who ar appoynted 
to hawe a speciall cair of him and his effairis. I commend my saull into the 
handis of my beawenlie father, and I ordeane my bodie to be buried at the 
south syd of the kirk of Fraserburghe, and ane He to be buildit there, and 
ane litle woult to be buildit upon my corps, that my bodie may rest till the 
glorious appeirance of my blissed Sauiour the Lord Jesus Cryst, at which tyme 
I hope for a glorious resurrectioun with the rest of Godis santis : My will is 
that the He be woultit and ane chalmer to be buildit aboue the woult, to be 
ane cessioun hous or chalmer to the minister. The He to be tbritte foot of 
heicht and als mekle of length, and ane steiple to be buildit on the He, and 
ane bell to be put thairin, and passag to be maid on the eist syd, that the 
minister may go in thereat to the pulpit. 1 

Sic subscribitur, 

S R A. Teaser. 
" M r AV m Forbes, minister at Fraserburghe, writter of thir presentis. 

" Andeo Feasee, vitness heirof. 

" Alex r Frasee, vitness. 

" George Prot, vitness." 
Sir Alexander Fraser lived but a few days longer, as, according to the 
retonr of his eldest son, Alexander, as his heir, be died in July 1623, though 
Crawfurd antedates that event to the 12th April, and he was buried in 
accordance witb his last directions, at the south side of the church ; but it 
is impossible to ascertain whether the vault and aisle were built as be had 
ordered, for the old church was pulled down, and another erected on the same 
spot in the year 1782. 

1 Philortk Charter-room. 



He does not appear to have had any issue from his second marriage, 
but by his first wife, Magdalen Ogilvie, he had five sons and three 
daughters — 


William, died unmarried. 

James, a party to the contract of 1613 with the feuars of Fraserburgh. 
See Frasers of Tyrie, in appendix. 

Simon, also a party to the contract of 1613. 

Thomas, said by Crawfurd to have written an account of the family, 
but it is doubtful whether it is still extant, and nothing more is known 
of him. 

Magdalen, married Patrick Cheyne of Esselmont. 

Margaret, married Hay of Ury. 

Elizabeth, married Sir E. Keith of Athergill. 

In the portrait 1 of this Sir Alexander Fraser, his armorial bearings are 
depicted, and the shield displays, quarterly, three rosettes or cinquefoils for 
Fraser, and a lion rampant for Ross. From the annexation of the Earldom 
of Eoss to the Crown in 1476, and the consequent disuse and disappearance 
of the arms belonging to that dignity, it would seem that one lion rampant, 
argent, had come to be regarded as the cognisance of the name of Eoss by 
the heralds of the succeeding century, instead of three, which the seals of 
Euphemia, Countess of Eoss, and of Hugh Eoss of Earichies, evince to have 
been the ancient insignia, and which were also borne by the Lords of the 
Isles, Earls of Eoss, down to their forfeiture in 1476. 2 

The achievement of Sir Alexander Fraser also shows the motto, " The 
glory of the honourable is to fear God," which was disused by his successors 
until its restoration in the present generation. 

1 The name of the painter of this portrait cessive proprietors of Philorth, lithographs 
has not been preserved ; it is by a master- of which, and of portraits of some other 
hand, somewhat in the style of Vandyck, members and connections of the family, are 

but it was painted about the year 1593, 
before the birth of that eminent artist. It 
is the earliest in a series of portraits of suc- 

inserted in this work. 

2 Laing's Scottish Seals, vol. i. Nos. 451-4. 
and Plate xn. figs. 4, 6. 







ALEXANDER FEASER, ninth of Philorth. 



His mother, Magdalen Ogilvie, having been very young at the time of 
her marriage, about 1559, it is probable that her first son, Alexander Fraser, 
was not born much before 1570. 

He was contracted in marriage to Margaret Abernethy, daughter of 
George, seventh Lord Saltoun, by a deed dated on the 19th December 
1595 and 1st January 1595-6. His father, Sir Alexander, settled Pittulie and 
some other lands upon him and his wife; but the cohabitation of the 
young couple appears to have been deferred for some years on account 
of the youth of the bride, for his eldest son, Alexander, was not born 
until the year 1604. 1 

In consequence of the arrangement already mentioned, he had obtained 
the lands of Aberdour, Scatterty, Tibertie, and Utlaw from his father before 
1608, which, with Pittulie, made a considerable estate. This he seems to 
have pledged to his uncle, John Fraser of Quarrelbuss and Crechie, and his 
son Andrew, about that time, but to have redeemed the whole of it in the 
next year, 1609, with the exception of the lands of Aberdour, which, how- 
ever, were at a later date reconveyed to his second son John by Andrew 
Fraser of Quarrelbuss, and on John's decease without issue, seem to have 
passed to his elder half-brother, Alexander. 2 

The young Laird does not appear to have taken any part in the further 
arrangements for the relief of his father Sir Alexander from his liabilities, 
except that he consented to waive his own rights in favour of his eldest son, 
Alexander, as regarded that portion of the estates not already in his pos- 
session; and although, on the 17th December 1624, he was served heir to 
his father in the lands and barony of Philorth and the other properties, 3 his 
succession to those that were then in the hands of the Crown, and of Simon 
Lord Lovat, and other trustees, for his eldest son's benefit, must have been 
1 Philorth Charter-room. - Ibid. 3 Appendix of Charters. 


but nominal; and in succeeding years he and his eldest son, under the 
respective designations of Alexander Fraser of Philorth and Alexander 
Fraser, younger of Philorth, are found, either separately or together, engaged 
in various transactions down to 1636-37, about which time he died, for in a 
lawsuit between his son and Lord Fraser in 1637, his funeral is said to have 
recently taken place. 1 

The life of his first wife, Margaret Abernethy, was a very short one. Her 
parents were married by 1574, but she was not of age at her own wedding 
in 1595. She died before the year 1608, survived by her husband, who 
married, secondly, Isabel Gordon, youngest daughter of Sir Eobert Gordon 
of Lochinvar, and Lady Isabel Euthven, daughter of William, first Earl of 
Gowrie. Isabel Gordon, Lady Philorth, was the granddaughter of Elizabeth 
Maxwell, Lady Philorth, the stepmother of her husband : she was also sister 


John, first Viscount Kenmure. 2 

By Margaret Abernethy, Alexander Fraser had one son and one daughter- 
Alexander, afterwards tenth Lord Saltoun. 
Magdalen, married James Forbes of Blackton. 3 

By Isabel Gordon he had also one son and one daughter — 
John, died without issue before 1630. 
Mary, married Baird of Auchmedden. 

1 Philorth Charter-room. 

2 Ibid. 

3 Douay Eegister, 10th September 1643. 


&-^$tti$$jj& < $S 

/"■■ i - ,; ' 









BORN 1604. DIED 16 93. 








rTIHE only son of the marriage between the ninth Laird of Philorth and 
Margaret, daughter of George de Abernethy, seventh Lord Saltoun, was 
Alexander Fraser. He was born in the year 1604, and, at an early age, had 
the misfortune to lose his mother, who died before 1608. 

He received as good an education as the age afforded, and his name is 
recorded as having matriculated at King's College, Aberdeen, in 1619. 1 

If the almost hopeless state of disorder into which the pressure of 
pecuniary difficulties had thrown his grandfather's affairs had been allowed 
to continue, no very bright prospect of succession would have been opened 
to him, but, as already noticed, Simon Lord Lovat 2 and his co-trustees had 
been appointed in 1615 for the purpose, among others, of restoring to him 
all that could be saved out of the family property ; and this trust was 
strengthened, in 1620, by his grandfather's resignation of the lands and 

1 Fasti Aberdon. most disingenuously, omits to state that he 

2 Mr. Andersou, History of the Family of held it in trust, with other co-trustees, for the 
Fraser, p. 97, notices that Simon Lord Lovat young heir, and leaves it to be inferred that 
had a charter of the Manor of Philorth, but, it was one of his own possessions. 



barony of Philorth into the hands of the Royal Commissioners in his favour, 

and that of the substitutes named in the deed. 

His grandfather dying in 1624, the succession to that portion of the 

estates, thus settled upon him, devolved on Alexander Fraser, to the 

exclusion of his father, who had, doubtless, given his consent to the arc-ange- 
ls 3 

ment; but his infeftment in these subjects was deferred for several years, and 

iS- it was not until the 6th of March 1628 that Simon Lord Lovat and his 

co-trustees resigned their trust, which they had honestly and worthily 
executed, and all rights thereto belonging, into the hands of the Eoyal Com- 
missioners, who thereupon gave the estates over to Alexander Eraser, which 
are described as those of Philorth, Cairnbulg, Invernorth, Benzietoun, Faithly, 
Burgh called Fraserburgh, Kinnaird's Head, Broadsea, Pitblea, patronage of 
the kirks of Philorth, Tyrie, and Eathen, etc. etc., 1 and this was followed by 
a charter and precept of sasine in his favour, under the great seal of 
Charles I., which again was ratified by the King in 1633. 2 

About this time the young laird of Philorth married a daughter of William 
Forbes of Tolquhoun, Avho had been one of his trustees ; but he was early 
left a widower by the death of this lady, by whom he had only a daughter. 3 

His second wife was Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Seton of Meldrum, 
by whom he had an only son Alexander. 4 

In 1630 he sold Aberdour to Alexander Forbes of Fitsligo. This estate 
had been obtained in 1624 by his half-brother, John Fraser, from their cousin, 
Andrew Fraser of Quarrelbuss, 5 to whom their father had sold it in 1 608 ; and 
John dying without issue, it seems to have passed to his elder half-brother. 

From the time of Alexander Fraser's succession under his grandfather's 
destination, he is found engaged in various transactions, under the designa- 
tion of " younger of Philorth," sometimes alone, at others in concert with his 
father, who is styled "of Philorth," or "elder of Philorth," 6 until about 
1636-7. when the latter died, and he succeeded to Pittullie, Pittendrum, 
etc., and became sole proprietor of all that remained of the once far more 
extensive family estates. 

1 Philorth Charter-room. 5 Antiquities of Aberdeenshire, vol. iv. p. 

2 Ibid. 121. 

3 Lives of Officers of State, }>. 284. 6 Philorth Charter-room. Dal. Decreets, 


Ibid. vol. xxv. 


In 1639 he appears, as Lord of the Eegality of Fraserburgh, to have 
exercised the feudal right of repledging criminals to the Court of his Eegality. 

William Fraser, a merchant in Fraserburgh, his brother Alexander 
Fraser, and Andrew Fraser in Benzietoun, with some others, having been 
indicted at Edinburgh, on the 26th July 1639, for the murder of Edward 
Skellay, in the house of John Lyell, at Fraserburgh, on the 23d April in 
that year, Mr. William Forbes, advocate, appeared for Alexander Fraser of 
Philorth and Fraserburgh, lord of the regality thereof, and claimed the right 
of repledging the said prisoners, and any other of the inhabitants accused of 
any crime within the lordship, to the judgment and jurisdiction of his regality, 
producing the charter granted by James VI. in 1601, and its ratification by 
Charles I. in a Parliament held at Edinburgh in 1633, in support of the 
claim, which seems to have been allowed by the Court. 1 

In regard to the above-mentioned right of repledging criminals, Erskine 
thus explains it in his Institutes of the Law of Scotland : — "The civil juris- 
diction of a lord of regality was in all respects equal to that of a Sheriff ; but 
his criminal was truly royal, for he might have judged in the four pleas of 
the Crown, whereas the Sheriff was competent to none of them but murder. 
It was even as ample as that of the justiciary as to every crime except trea- 
son. Mack. Crim. Tr., p. 11, t. u. 85. And in this one respect it prevailed 
over it, that where a criminal was amenable to a regality the lord might have 
repledged or reclaimed him to his own Court, not only from the Sheriff, but 
from the justices themselves. He who had this right, or his procurator, 
appeared before the Court from whom he was to repledge, and demanded, 
judicially, that the person accused, because he resided within his special 
jurisdiction, might be sent to his Court to be tried there ; and it behoved him 
to give security to the Court repledged from that he would minister justice 
to him within a year, which security was called ' culrach,' from the Gaelic 
' cul,' which signifies ' back,' and ' rach,' ' cautioner.' 

" If the repledger neglected to try the defender in that time he forfeited 
his right of holding courts for a year ; the first judge might again proceed in 
the cause ; and if the defender did not appear, the cautioner was to answer 
for him." 2 

1 Philorth Charter-room. 2 Macallan's Edition, B. i. tit. iv. p. 76. 


This privilege of the lords of regality was abolished by the Heritable 
Jurisdictions Act of 1747. 

It is beyond the scope of this family history to enter further into the 
relation of public affairs than is necessary to explain the share taken in them 
by the individuals whose lives are recorded in these pages, and the references 
to the stirring events which occurred during Alexander Fraser's long life will be 
confined to those in which he took a part ; but it would appear that the statement 
made by Crawfurd, that he " was a great Eoyalist, and suffered much for his 
adherence to King Charles I. during the Troubles," has no foundation in fact. 1 

Whether Alexander Fraser was an enthusiastic Presbyterian, or whether 
he had any strong objection to Episcopal government of the Church, is very 
doubtful ; but he seems, bike many others, to have acquiesced in the existing 
state of affairs, and yielded obedience and support to the then dominant 
party, and he subscribed the Solemn League and Covenant when it was 
brought to Aberdeen by Montrose in 1638. He was also a member of the 
General Assembly at Glasgow in 1639, when the resistance to the establish- 
ment of Episcopacy by the royal authority commenced, and in the same year 
he served in the army commanded by Montrose ; and, with the tutor of 
Pitsligo, led a contingent of about 200 men during the expedition against 
the castles of Kellie and Gight. 2 

In April 1640 he was named a member of the committee or council of 
war appointed to assist the Earl Marischal, who commanded the forces of the 
Covenanters in the neighbourhood of Aberdeen ; 3 and in June of the same 
year an event took place which had a rather curious termination. Gordon, 
Laird of Gight, a strong anti- Covenanter, having obtained forty-eight hours' safe 
conduct from the Earl Marischal, came into Aberdeen to treat about making 
his submission to the ruling powers, when from some cause or other, very 
possibly from the hereditary feud consequent upon the murder of Thomas 
Fraser of Strichen by a former Laird of Gight in 1576, a quarrel occurred 
between him and the Laird of Philorth, followed by a challenge to fight, 
although they must have been closely connected, for Philorth's aunt, Jean 
de Abernethy, had taken a Laird of Gight for her second husband in 1617. 

1 Lives of Officers of State, p. 284. 

2 History of Troubles, vol. i. pp. 193, 196. 3 Ibid. p. 267. 


The Earl Marischal hearing of this, in order to prevent the duel, made the 
Laird of Gight a prisoner before the expiry of his safe conduct, who, alarmed 
at this proceeding, and not knowing the Earl's real reason for it, effected his 
escape and fled to Germany. 1 

The Laird of Philorth and the Laird of Drum were chosen commissioners 
for the county of Aberdeen in 1643 to attend the Convention of Estates, held 
at Edinburgh, at which the Solemn League and Covenant of that year 
was agreed upon; 2 and in the same year they were appointed conveners of 
the county, for the purpose of levying taxes to maintain the Scottish 
armies. 3 

During 1644, the Laird of Philorth was associated with the Lord Eraser 
and the Forbes family, in support of the Marquis of Argjdl against the 
Eoyalists, under the Earl of Huntly and the Marquis of Montrose ; 4 and in 
the same year he was engaged in the following transactions with the Presby- 
tery of Strathbogie, on behalf of James Urquhart of Old Craig, who appears 
to have been his ward. 5 

William Crichton, a brother of Viscount Frendraught, having been killed 
by Walter Urquhart of Crombie and some other persons, Mr. Douglas, minister 
of Forgie, appeared before the Presbytery of Strathbogie on the 4th January 
1643, and in the name of the Viscount desired that process of excommunica- 
tion might proceed against the slayer and his accomplices, who were conse- 
quently during that year cited to attend for trial, and on December 20th 
the various ministers reported that they had cited them to appear upon 
that day. 

None of the accused appeared ; but a letter from Alexander Fraser of 
Philorth was read, in which he said that he would have attended the meeting 
of the Presbytery if he had not been detained at Aberdeen by business of the 
Committee or Council of which he was a member, and in the name of James 
Urquhart of Old Craig, one of the accused, to whom he was guardian, 
requested information as to the time of the next meeting, in order that he 
might attend it. 

1 History of Troubles, vol. i. p. 287. 4 History of Troubles, vol. ii. p. 338. 

a Ibid. vol. ii. p. 254. 5 Spalding Club, Presbytery Book of Strath- 

3 Ibid. p. 266. bogie, pp. 35-54. 


On the 10th of January 1644 he attended the meeting of the Presbytery 
held on that day, accompanied by Hugh Fraser of Easter Tyrie, and after 
stating that his ward, James Urquhart of Old Craig, was not in the kingdom, 
and was ignorant of the process instituted against him, requested the Presby- 
tery to give him time to inform the said James of the circumstances, and to 
bring him home to answer for himself, which he would undertake to do if 
the Presbytery would suspend the process meanwhile. 

The Presbytery replied that they could not suspend the process without 
authority from the Commissioners of the General Assembly, but consented to 
write a letter to them on the matter, which Philorth was to carry to them, 
and to return their answer to the Presbytery. 

On the 28th February, at the meeting of the Presbytery, a letter was 
received from Philorth, excusing his not having returned them the answer of 
the Commissioners of General Assembly in time for their meeting, as that 
body was not to meet until the 25th of that month, but promising to send it 
as soon as possible, meanwhile requesting that the suspension of process 
against James Urquhart might be continued, and protesting that, if they 
proceeded in the matter, whatsoever they did should be referred to the 
Provincial Assembly. 

The Presbytery, however, resolved to proceed, although on the 27th March 
they received a letter from James Urquhart and Patrick Meldrum, offering 
to make satisfaction for whatever transgressions they might have committed ; 
and at their meeting on the 24th April, in reply to the demand of the 
Moderator, the members of the Presbytery reported that they had all given 
three public admonitions, and that some had offered up two public prayers in 
the matter of James Urquhart of Old Craig, Patrick Meldrum, sometime of 
Iden, and Adam Gordon, accomplices in the slaughter of William Crichton. 
Whereupon Mr. William Stewart, notar-public in Fraserburgh, appeared in 
the names of James Urquhart of Old Craig and the Eight Honourable 
Alexander Fraser of Philorth, and offered, in their names, that James 
Urquhart should appear, within a competent time, to undergo his trial, and 
also protested against the Presbytery proceeding to excommunication in his 
absence, and that, if they did so, the matter should be referred to the General 


The Presbytery, in reply, decided that they had not power to delay the pro- 
cess, but promised that sentence should not be pronounced until " the . . . 
of May next, that Philorth might acquaint the . . . of the Generall (Assembly?) 
heirwith, that according to their . . . the Presbytery might proceed." 

How the affair ended does not appear, but it is evident, from the record 
of this and of other transactions, that the Laird of Philorth not only obeyed, 
but gave active support to the party then in power, which was that of the 
Covenanters, and that he had considerable influence with the leaders of it. 

On the 15th of July 1647, an Act of the Committee of Estates was passed, 
by which, "taking into their consideratioune the losses sustained be the 
Laird of Philorth and his tenentis, be the rebellis, and otherwayes," to the 
amount of "four score thousand merks, and finding it most just that some 
cours were tane for his reparatioune in some measure, and for a supplee to 
his subsistance," they modify to him the sum of sixteen thousand merks for 
a present supply, which was to include a sum of five thousand merks already 
granted to his tenants, and was to be levied out of the fines imposed upon 
Inverallochie, John Chessors, elder and younger, Alexander Hay of Bilbo, 
Patrick Strachan of Kinaldie, and young Glenkindie. This was followed by 
another decree from the same body, dated 29th February 1648, in which, 
after referring to the former Act, and the modification of sixteen thousand 
merks " as the fyft pairt of the losses sustained be him in this caus, conform 
to the report of the Commissioune given for tryall of the samen," and " con- 
sidering that the said Alexander Frasser hes been a great sufferer for his 
affection to this publick work," they " doe find themselffes the more oblieged 
thereby to taik course for his satisfactioune in some measure ; " and (as pro- 
bably the fines mentioned in the first Act did not come very readily to hand) 
they ordered payment to be made to him out of the " loan, and first sevintene 
mounth maintenance of the shyres of Aberdeen, Murray, Banff, Inverness, 
Caithness, and Orkney." 1 

The Duke of Hamilton and the more moderate Presbyterian party had 
succeeded in wresting the government of Scotland from the hands of the 
Marquis of Argyll and his faction; 2 and in 1648, when the Scottish nation 

1 Philorth Charter-room. 

2 Clarendon's History of the Rebellion, vol. vi. pp. S-14. 



attempted to effect the deliverance of Charles I. from his captivity, the Laird 
of Philorth received a commission of Colonel from the Committee of Estates, 
in succession to the Master of Forbes in the following terms : — 

" Muche honored, — The Maister of Forbes haveing quit his employment 
as ane Colonell in the present levey, and wee being confident of your affec- 
tion to the publict service, have nominat yow to be Colonel, in place of the 
Maister of Forbes, and to have that division of the shyre of Aberdein allowed 
to him. These are therefore to desire yow, vpon receipt heirof, to goe about 
the leveying of that Regiment quhilk formerlie fell to the Maister of Forbes. 
Quherin expecting your care, we rest, 

" Your affectionat Freinds, 

James Dundas. S. Ja. Foulis. 

Akch d . Sydserfe. Eobert Innes. 

"Edinburgh, 23 rd May 1648. 
Addressed thus : 

" For our worthie Freind, Alexander Fraser of Phillorth. 
" To be communicat to the Committee of Aberden." 1 

1 Philorth Charter-room. 


As colonel of this regiment, it is not unlikely that the Laird of Philorth 
served in the army that invaded England under the Duke of Hamilton, and 
may have shared in the defeat of Preston, where that nobleman was routed 
and taken prisoner ; but if so, he was fortunate enough to avoid captivity. 

After the death of the royal martyr, Charles u. had been proclaimed 
King of Scotland in 1649, but he did not arrive in that country until June 
1650 where he was subjected to many indignities, Argyll and the more 
fanatic of the Covenanters having again returned to power after the failure of 
the Duke of Hamilton's expedition and the subsequent invasion of the south 
of Scotland by Cromwell, though even they were compelled to acknowledge 
the young king as their sovereign, from the general indignation against his 
father's murderers. On the 15th July he was again solemnly proclaimed 
king at Edinburgh. 

A few days afterwards, Cromwell once more crossed the Tweed, and 
advancing as far as Edinburgh retired from thence to Dunbar, where on the 
3d September he gained the important victory of that name over the Scottish 
forces, and returning to Edinburgh invested the castle, which surrendered on 
the 12th December. 

As it is recorded by Lord Clarendon, in his History of the Rebellion, that 
the Marquis of Argyll and his party allowed few or no soldiers or officers 
who had been in the expedition of the Duke of Hamilton, or who were 
thought to wish well to the king, to serve in the army at Dunbar, it is very 
improbable that Alexander Eraser of Philorth was in that engagement. 1 

The king, who had not been permitted to command the army, retired to 
Perth on. Cromwell's advance to Edinburgh ; and Argyll's power being con- 
siderably reduced by the defeat of Dunbar, his Majesty found himself more 
independent, and proceeded to raise a fresh army to the north of the Forth. 

The Laird of Philorth was one of those who most ardently devoted 
themselves to his cause, and contributed sums of money towards it ; besides 
which he is said, by family and local tradition, to have raised a regiment at 
his own expense, with which he joined the royal standard after the king's 
coronation at Scone on the 1st January 1651. 

In the annals written by Sir James Balfour, Lyon King-of-Arms to 
1 Clarendon's History, vol. vi. ed. 1826, p. 453. 



Charles First, the following passage is found in the record of the Parliament at 
Perth, under date March 31, 1651 : — " Ordred by the King and Parliament, 
that the Laird of Philorthe stay wntill he be cleired anent his letting the 
pryese withe cheisse escape; and that one of each estait be addit to his 
examinators." 1 

This meagre notice is all that remains respecting the matter, but a few 
pages before occurs another passage, of date March 27, in the same year : — 
" A letter from the Magistrats of Aberdeen to the King and Parliament, 
shewing that one Capitane Binge of Jarsey, with a commissione from the 
Ducke of Zorke, as Admirall of England and Irland, had brought into Aber- 
deene ane Englishe shipe, as a prysse." 2 

This may have been the "pryese withe cheisse," that the Laird of Philorth 
was accused of allowing to escape, but he either cleared himself from the 
charge, or it fell to the ground, for he appears to have lost nothing of the 
royal favour. 

The following letter, from King Charles the Second, also shows that his 
sovereign had recourse to him in his straits for pecuniary aid : — 

" Laird of Phillokth, — I am so confident of your good affection to me, and 
the aduancement of my affaires, that I doubt not but you wilbe willing to 
furnish me, for my present occasions, with the summe of two hundred pounds 
sterling, which I pray you to deliuer either to my selfe, or to the bearer 
hereof, my seruant, who shall bring you to me ; and I shall not only take it 
as a testimonie of your affection, but shall also repay the same to you, and 
acknowledge it as an acceptable seruice done to me. 

Perth, the 28th day of March 1651." 

Your QrUMa 

Addressed : " For the Laird of Phillorth." 3 

1 Balfour's Annals, vol. iv. p. '280. 
- Ibid. p. 270. 

3 Philorth Charter-room. The words in 
the woodcut are holograph of the king. 


The loan thus requested appears to have been made by instalments, and 
at a discount of ten per cent., as the following receipt will show : — 

"April 8th, 1651. — Eeceaved, the day and yeer above written, of the 
Laird of Philorth, for His Majestie's use, to his Privy Purse, the sunie of 
Power score and tenne poimd sterlin mouney, I say receaved by me, the day 
and yiere above written, the full sum of 90 Lib." 

Signed " Eic. Harding. 
Which 90 Lib. sterlin is now, vpon the raising of mouney, become 100 Lib." 1 

After the capture of Edinburgh, Cromwell passed the winter in that city, 
and the king, having assembled his army, numbering about 18,000 men, 
held the line of the river Forth. Cromwell, having advanced from Edin- 
burgh, after a while outmanoeuvred the royal army, and succeeded in turning 
its left flank, and establishing himself in Fife about the end of July, thereby 
threatening its communications. 

Upon this the king, finding the way clear, determined to move southward 
into England, and getting a few days' start of his great adversary, advanced 
by forced marches to Carlisle, which he reached on the 6th August, and 
thence through Lancashire and Shropshire to the city of Worcester, where 
he arrived on the 22d of the same month. 

The king had expected to receive considerable reinforcements in England, 
but his expectations were not realised, and, save the contingent raised by the 
gallant Earl of Derby, who not long after suffered on the block for his 
devoted loyalty, and a few other kindred spirits, he obtained no accession of 
force, nor did any general rising in his favour take place. 

As soon as he heard of the march of the royal army, Cromwell, though 
delayed for a few days by the necessity of making arrangements to secure 
his conquests, left General Monck to command in Scotland, and followed 
with all speed. 

His army being strongly recruited by militia levies as he passed through 
England, he appeared with 30,000 men in the beginning of September before 
Worcester, where the king with his army, now reduced to 14,000, still 
remained, having partially fortified the town and broken down a bridge 
across the Severn some distance below the place. 2 

1 Philorth Charter-room. 2 Carlyle's Oliver Cromwell, vol. ii. p. 138. 


On the 3d September, the anniversary of the battle of Dunbar in the 
previous year, Cromwell advanced to the attack from the south-east. 
Fleetwood, with Lambert's division, managed to cross the Severn by the 
bridge, which had not been thoroughly destroyed, and having also succeeded 
in passing the small river Teme, which runs into the Severn, drove the 
Scots on the western bank towards the town. 

Cromwell having also passed the Severn with strong reinforcements to 
aid Fleetwood, the king and his advisers thought the opportunity a good 
one to attack the forces left upon the eastern bank, and made a furious sally 
upon them ; but Cromwell, hastening back, resumed the command, repulsed 
the assailants, and both armies entered the city fighting desperately. 

Various conflicting accounts have been given of the behaviour of the 
Scots in this action ; Clarendon, who, however, seldom has a good word for 
that nation, accusing them of gross cowardice. But one may be allowed to 
rely on the testimony of Cromwell himself, who, in letters to the Speaker, 
Lenthall, bears witness to the severity of the battle ; and when it is remem- 
bered that their adversaries were more than double their number, it may be 
concluded that the Scottish army fought welL 

The following are extracts from these letters : — 

" Indeed, this hath been a very glorious mercy, and as stiff a contest for 
four or five hours as ever I have seen." 

" The battle was fought with various success for some hours, but still 
hopeful on our part, and in the end became an absolute victory." 

" Indeed, it was a stiff business." 1 

At length, after a desperate resistance, fighting hand to hand through the 
streets, the Scottish army, overpowered and outnumbered, was utterly broken 
and put to flight, many being slain and a great number made prisoners. 

Family tradition has handed down a report of the fate of the Laird of 
Philorth on that day. He is said to have been left for dead on that bloody 
field, and only to have been saved by his faithful servant, who, on finding his 
master's body, perceived that life still lingered therein, and was fortunate 
enough to be able to convey him to a place of concealment, where he recovered 
of his wounds. 

1 Carlyle's Oliver Cromwell, vol. ii. p. 143. 



D . S . P. 1690. 


The same report says that they were the only two of the regiment who 
returned to Scotland, the remainder having been slain, or taken prisoners and 
sent as slaves to the colonies ; and whatever exaggeration there may be in 
this, the tradition was doubtless founded on the fact that the corps suffered 
very severely. 

After a while the Laird of Philorth succeeded in making his way back to 
Scotland, and on the 11th January 1652, at Newbottle, he signed the contract 
of marriage between his son and heir, Alexander, and Lady Ann Kerr, daughter 
of William, Earl of Lothian. 

Before entering upon the dangerous career which he foresaw when he 
joined the party of his sovereign, he had drawn up his "latter will and testa- 
ment;" and although, from his life having been prolonged many years, it 
never took effect, yet it is an interesting document, affording evidence of his 
having been a thoughtful and religious man, and also of a kindly and affec- 
tionate disposition. 1 

After some bequests to his half-sister, Mary, and other relations, he leaves 
his whole property to his son, and especially mentions his claim and right to 
the lands of Cairnbulg. 

The sale of the old manor-place of Philorth, and of the lands attached to 
it, by Alexander Eraser of Durris, in contravention of the conditions under 
which he had purchased them from Sir Alexander Fraser of Philorth and 
Fraserburgh in 1016, has been already noticed, and the Laird of Philorth 
now attempted to set aside that transaction and recover the property. 

About 1652 he commenced an action against Andrew Lord Fraser (the 
successor of the Laird of Muchalls, who had been the purchaser), for the 
reduction of the sale of the lands and castle, and for their revendition to him 
in the terms of the contract under which they were conveyed to the Laird of 
Durris, upon the ground that such sale had been in direct contravention of 
the stipulations in that contract, that these subjects should not be sold during 
the lives of his grandfather, Sir Alexander Fraser, and Alexander Fraser of 
Durris, and that, after their decease, they should be offered to his grand- 
father's heir at a fixed price. 2 

This lawsuit dragged on until 1665, when it was decided in favour of the 
1 Philorth Charter-room. 2 Philorth Charter-room. Dal. Decreets, vol. xv. 


Lord Fraser, and, as was too often the case in those days, the authority of the 
law confirmed the possession of property wrongfully acquired. 

In another litigation with the same adversary, the Laird of Philorth was 
more successful. Between 1631 and 1G37, it had become necessary to re- 
build the kirkyard dike of the parish church of Eathen, which work was 
apportioned amongst the heritors of the parish, and the stile or entrance to 
the kirkyard fell to the share of Lord Lovat and Andrew Fraser of Muchalls, 1 
recently created Lord Fraser, the latter of whom not only encroached some 
feet upon the Philorth property, but also placed his arms over the kirk stile, 
which, doubtless, was considered by far the greater offence, as the Laird of 
Philorth was patron of the church of Eathen. 

Philorth at first endeavoured to redress this grievance with the strong 
hand, and caused boards bearing his arms to be placed over the sculptured 
arms of Lord Fraser, who thereupon raised an action against him in the 
Court of Session. 

The Lords of Council and Session found that wrong had been done to the 
Lord Fraser by the Laird of Philorth, but upon the latter declaring that " the 
setting up of the saides armes wes done be him vpon respect and for honour 
of his father's funerallis, and not out of any splene or contempt of the said 
Lord Fraser, nor of the honour, title, and dignitie conferred be his Majestie 
vpon him," they forbore censuring him, and merely ordered him to take the 
boards down before the 15th March 1637, and not to remove the arms of the 
Lord Fraser except in a legal way, upon decreet from the Judge Ordinary. 
The Laird of Philorth thereupon obeyed, and afterwards brought an action 
against the Lord Fraser, both as regarded the kirk stile and dike and the 
arms, which was decided in his favour in 1667. 

But upon the petition of William the Earl Marischall, Simon Fraser of 
Inverallochie, and other heritors of the parish, who represented "Lyke as 
their Lordships knew that the armes of the Lord Fraser wes upon the said 
kirkstyle, and it was sufficientlie known what prejudice and animositie wes 
alreadie between the Lairds of Philorth and the Lord Fraser, and if this 
opportunitie wer puttin in Philorth's hand, be vertu of this decreit, to throw 

1 These had become heritors in the parish acquisition of Inverallochy, and of Cairnlmlg 
of Rathen in consequence of their respective and Invernorth. 


down and break in pieces the Lord Fraser's armes, which is a badge of honour 
conferred on his familie be the King's Majestie, thair Lordships by putting 
an end to this pley would occasion a farr greatter and worse between the 
saids pairties nor ever zet had bein." Therefore they " craved their Lord- 
ships would fall on some convenient way for accommodating the samyn, and 
recommend to indifferent and judicious men, who wer not ingaideged in 
either pairtie, to take cours in ordour to the saids armes befor the decreitwer 
put in execution as to the dyke and style." Whereupon their Lordships 
" recommendit, and heirby recommends to my Lord Fyvie, and, in his 
absence, anie two of the justices of peace, to be present at the removal of the 
foresaid armes off the kirk style above specified, and to cause the samyn to 
be done without defacing the armes." 1 

In consequence of the adverse decision in 1665 respecting the castle and 
lands of Cairnbulg, and his failing to recover the old manor-place of Philorth, 
Alexander Fraser determined to erect a new residence, and in 1666 built the 
present house of Philorth, about two miles to the south of Fraserburgh. The 
age of fortified castles had gone by, and that of Fraserburgh was in too 
exposed a situation for a pleasant residence, at all events during the winter. 

In 1668 his cousin, Alexander de Abernethy, ninth Lord Saltoun, died 
without issue, and the decease of his only sister, unmarried, having soon 
followed, this Laird of Philorth inherited the dignity of Lord Saltoun, and he 
became the tenth Lord. He expede a service as heir of line, through his 
mother, Margaret de Abernethy, of his maternal grandfather, George, the 
seventh Lord. 2 As Lord Saltoun, the tenth Lord took the oaths and his seat 
in the Scottish Parliament on the 9th of August 1670. Lord Mordingtoun 
made a general protest, probably on the ground of precedency, but without 
effect. Only thirteen days thereafter, on 2 2d August 1670, the king and the 
Parliament passed an Act ratifying the dignity to Lord Saltoun, and that Act 
embodied in it a previous ratification, which was made by the king on the 
11th of July preceding. The Act of Parliament is in the following terms : — 

" At Edinburgh, the tuentie tuo day of August, on thousand sex hundreth 
and three score ten yeers. — Our Soveraign Lord, with advyce and consent of 

■ x Philorth Charter-room. Dal. Decreets, - Retour expede on 14th April 1670. Ex- 

vol. xxiii. tract at Philorth. See Appendix. 


the Estates of Parliament now presentlie convened, Eatifies and Approves, 
and for His Matie and his successors, perpetualie confirmes to Alexander, now 
Lord Saltoun, and the aires of his bodie alreadie procreat and to be procreat, 
the Letters Patent vnder writtin made and granted be His Matie, whereof 
the tenor followes. Sic suprascribitur, Charles E. Whereas wee have 

seen Alexander Frazer of Philorth, his generall service as air of Lyne to the 
deceast (George) Abernethie, Lord Saltoun, retoured to our Chancellarie ; 
And wee being willing that the said Alexander and the aires of his bodie 
alreadie procreat and to be procreat, as nixt in blood and Linealie descended of 
the said familie, and conforme to ther right thereto, may injoy the title and 
dignitie of the Lord Abernethie of Saltoun, in all tyme comeing, Thairfor wee 
have not only ratified and approven the foresaid service and retour, Bot also 
ratine and approve of the said Alexander his vseing and takeing vpon him as 
Air of Lyne and next in blood and Lineallie descended of the said familie, the 
Title, Dignitie, place, and rank therof, And will and declare that the said 
Alexander and the Aires Lineallie descending of him may vse and injoy the 
forsaid Title and Dignitie in all tyme comeing, as any other Lord Abernethie 
of Saltoun did in any tyme bygon vse and injoy the same, and all the honours 
and priviledges therto appertaining. Wherof wee will and comand all our 
Officers and others our Subjects to tak notice. Given at Our Court at 
Whytehall, the Elevint day of July 1670, And of our reigne the tuentie tuo 
yeer. By his Majesties comand sic sub r Lauderdaill. In all and sundrie heids, 
articles, priviledges, Immunities, Honors, and Dignities therof above men- 
tioned, and after the forme and tenor therof in all points." 1 

Beyond the acquisition of an ancient and honourable dignity, his succes- 
sion to the title, and heirship to his maternal grandfather brought Lord Saltoun 
little advantage ; on the contrary, it involved him in a sea of trouble and 
litigation, which lasted his whole life, and did not end until the time of his 
grandson, with disastrous results to the family. 

In the history of the Abernethies of Abernethy and Saltoun, Part v., it will 
be seen that the eighth and ninth Lords Saltoun had become deeply embarrassed 
in their circumstances, and had parted with all, or nearly all their estates. 

1 Original Extract Act, signed by Sir Archibald Primerose, Clerk Register, in Philorth 





^ffff ^Mk-^^-^^ 

£<?7K OW 


The transactions by which the ninth Lord Saltoun attempted to retrieve his 
fortunes, James Abernethy's unprincipled abstraction of the leaves from the 
register of decreets, and the subsequent events, will be there related, and 
need not be told here; and when the Laird of Philorth, as heir of line, became 
tenth Lord Saltoun, he and his son Alexander, who became Master of 
Saltoun, found themselves made parties to the formidable lawsuits which 
those proceedings had engendered. 

It will also be seen that the renunciation executed by the ninth Lord 
Saltoun was sufficient to secure Sir Andrew Fletcher in his purchase of the 
estate of Saltoun, and the family of Gordon who purchased Eothiemay and 
other Abernethy lands, do not appear to have been very seriously disturbed in 
the enjoyment of those acquisitions ; but the proprietorship of the estate of 
Balvenie, in Banffshire, was most bitterly contested. 

Lord Saltoun, however, does not appear to have taken any very active 
part in these matters, or to have inherited any rights in the estate of Balvenie, 
or in any other part of the possessions of the Abernethies, for the lawsuits 
respecting that property were carried on almost entirely in the name of his 
son, the Master of Saltoun. 

John, eighth Lord Saltoun, purchased Balvenie from James, Earl of 
Atholl, about 1609, and a few years later disponed it to Lord Ochiltree, 
by whom it was conveyed to Sir Bobert Innes of Invermarkie, from whom, 
or from his heirs, it is said to have passed to Sutherland of Kinminity ; but 
at any rate, about the middle of the century, Adam Duff of Drummuir had 
obtained some rights over it, proceeding from the disposition of the eighth 
Lord Saltoun. 

The reversal of that disposition, which Sir Archibald Stewart of Black- 
hall succeeded in carrying out by James Abernethy's fraud, and his previous 
adjudication of the estates from the ninth Lord Saltoun in 1639, 1 seem to 
have given him command of the estate of Balvenie for a time, and he conveyed 
it to Alexander Fraser, younger of Philorth (afterwards the Master of Saltoun), 
who held it with the consent of Adam Duff of Drummuir, who seems to have 
been under pecuniary obligations to his father, the Laird of Philorth, as early 
as 1643, and this shows how the right of the Master of Saltoun arose. 
1 See Part v., Alexander, ninth Lord Saltoun. 
2 A 


The ninth Lord Saltoun, however, may perhaps have disponed Balvenie 
to Arthur Forbes of Echt, who will be seen to have obtained much 
influence over him ; at all events the latter, as a very prominent creditor 
under Sir Archibald Stewart's adjudication, claimed that estate, as well 
as all the other Abernethy lands, and it was between him and the Master 
of Saltoun that litigation, embittered perhaps by Echt's failure in obtaining 
the succession to the title, 1 went on for many years, proving most disastrous 
to the interests of both. 

A detailed account of a long series of lawsuits would be an infliction from 
which it is desirable to spare the reader, and it will be sufficient, as regards 
Balvenie, to say that, after many years of varying fortune, the scales of law — 
for justice had little to do with the whole affair — inclined in favour of 
Arthur Forbes, who seems for a few years to have established his title to 
that estate, only in 1687 to have it adjudged from him by Alexander 
Duff of Drummuir and Alexander Duff of Braco, the former of whom 
conveyed it to the latter ; and it now, with many other of the old 
Abernethy estates, forms part of the property of Braco's descendant, the 
Earl of Fife. 

The dull proceedings of the courts of law were, however, at times 
exchanged for a little violence ; and it is upon record how Arthur Forbes, 
accompanied by James Gordon of Bothiemay, Sir John Forbes of Craigievar, 
Master John Forbes, Sheriff-depute of Aberdeen, Arthur Forbes of Brux, 
Bobert Forbes, tutor of Craigievar, William Forbes of Camphoe, with many 
other persons, to the number of twenty-four or thirty, came to the Master of 
Saltoun's house at Balvenie, and called his servants and vassals to state upon 
oath what money they had given to the Master. The servants that were 
working in the house (the Master was not there) fearing an attack, left the 
place after " rainforcing the gates with great trees and posts of timber ;" and 
Arthur Forbes, with his party, after trying in vain to break them open, got in 
by the windows of the second storey, and having done considerable damage, 
left the house because they did not find it tenable, — probably it was under- 
going repair, — " venting a great many brags they should be there to possess it 
within a few moneths, who would say the contrarie," which the Master com- 

1 See Part v., Alexander, ninth Lord Saltoun. 

By ScouSal. 



BORN CIRCA 1630. DIED V P. 1682. 


plained so affrighted his vassals and servants, that " he cannot get them pay 
their dueties." 

But the loss of Balvenie was not the only mischief caused by the litiga- 
tion in which the Master of Saltoun was engaged, and before relating his 
further misfortunes, some account may be given of his more private career. 

The only son of the tenth Laird of Philorth, he was born about 1630, and 
was educated at King's College, Aberdeen, having matriculated there in 1647. 
He married, on the 11th of January 1652, Lady Ann Kerr, daughter of 
William, Earl of Lothian, and by her had two sons, Alexander and William. 
She died in the course of a few years, and on the 29th of October 1660 he 
married a second wife, Dame Marion Cunyngham, Countess of Findlater, who 
lived but a short time after the marriage, for, on the 27th of June 1663, he 
is found a third time venturing upon matrimony, and he then espoused Lady 
Sophia Erskine, sister to the second and third Earls of Kellie. 

This lady seems to have possessed much amiability and intelligence, and 
the following letter from her to the Earl of Lauderdale, in favour of her 
brother, the third Earl of Kellie, though in the faulty orthography of that 
age, is well expressed, and was probably written before her marriage : — 

Petenueme, the 19 Joune. 

"My Lord, — Being enformed by my brother Kellie and others tuo of 
your lordships gret kyendnes and seueletis to hem makes mie giue your 
Lordship the troubell of ther fhoue layens att thes tyem to render your lord- 
ship manay thanks for all your fauers and nobell acs of kyendnes you heart 
ben plesed to sheau for my brother and troulie itt dous sho a gret deal of 
generosetie and good neter in your lordship to heau so much kyendnes for 
your trends I am houpfoull that your lordship hes ben plesed to sho hes 
Majestie sounxvhat of the condestioune of my brother's femelie I clout not 
bot your lordship knous soumtheng of itt Tho' not so much as I could wish 
for I knoe my brother to be of that youmer that he can hardle let hes con- 
destioune be knoun to hes nerest relationes Tho' itt consernes hem werie 
much I hear hes Majestie is a werie Gresties and kyend prens to all his 
soubjaks and particolerle to all Thos who hes ben soufers for hem en ther 
tyems and I am houpfoull hes Majestie well louk upon my brother as on of 


thos so my onlay desayer to your lordship is that you void he mending his 
Majestie of hem and I houmhlie entret your lordship laykways to giue my 
brother your best adues en making his adreses hem self to hes Majestie so 
creuing your lordship's pardoun for thes troubell I well ead no more hot 
that I shall euer stref to vetnes myself how much I am 

My lord 
Your lordship's most affectionett cousing and hcumbell seruand 

S. Aeeskine " 
" For the Earell of Latherdeall " x 

The Master and his third wife appear to have lived together on the most 
affectionate terms, and at her death, which occurred in 1676, he deplored her 
loss in a letter to the Earl of Tweeddale that evinces much feeling. 

Philorth, 17th July 1676. 
" My dear Lord, — Your last com to me in a verie sad tyme, when my 
deerest and best pairtt of this world was gone to hir everlasting rest. I was not 
capablle to give an return then, neather now can ther com ani thing from this 
butt sorrow and affliction, and I doubt nott at all but your lordship and your 
family will hav an shair in our griffe, as having nott only lost an affectionatt 
kinswoman, butt the beste and trewist of freinds. what an hairtt hav I 
that can call to mynd the manie sweitt contorts we hade togither, and 
not braik; but God Almiglitie, who saw how unworthie I was of what I 
injoyed, and how unthankful to his holy Majestie for continowing so grytt 
an blising with me, hes been plaised in his wisdoum to remove it. I pray 
him it may be in his mercie to me. I shall give your lordship no mor 
truble now, but I will ever be to your lordship, to my deir lady, and to all 
your family, my deir lord, a most faithful and humble servant, 

" For the Eairlle of Twaddaille— This." 2 

1 Lauderdale mss., British Museum. 

2 Original Letter at Yester. 



BORN 165 3. DIED S RV.P, 167/. 


The Master of Saltoun had no issue except the two sons of his first marriage. 
The elder of these, Alexander, was born in 1653, 1 matriculated at King's College, 
Aberdeen, in 1667, and died towards the end of 1672, when about nineteen 
years of age; 2 and the second son, William, who was born on the 21st of 
November 1654, eventually succeeded his grandfather as eleventh Lord Saltoun. 

The Master is described by his son William as a man of the strictest 
integrity and honour ; but he appears to have possessed scarcely sufficient 
firmness of character for the troublesome times in which his lot was cast, and 
a somewhat facile disposition induced Mm to place undue confidence in pre- 
tended friends, who grossly betrayed him, but whose names are not mentioned 
here, as it is undesirable to re-open old animosities long since forgotten. 
Although his father often remonstrated strongly with him, and endeavoured to 
rouse him to distrust of false friends, yet in the course of the lawsuit respect- 
ing Balvenie he became more and more involved in debt to them, both on 
account of the expenses of litigation, and to purchase the influential support 
they professed to be able to procure, until at length he was obliged to pledge 
to them the lands of Pittullie and Pittendrum (old Fraser possessions, 
lying about a mile to the westward of Fraserburgh, that had been settled 
upon him at the time of his first marriage) in security for his liabilities ; 
and his father had no choice but to give his consent to that measure, which 
he did very reluctantly. 

No sooner had his pretended friends gained this point than they altogether 
neglected his interests, and, turning upon him, pressed for settlement of 
accounts ; and taking every advantage that the law afforded, not only evicted 
those lands from him and his heirs, but left the family still under considerable 
liabilities to them, from which, however, it will be seen that his son, the 
eleventh Lord, succeeded in freeing it. 

These unhappy results were therefore in a great degree due to the 
Master's unfortunate weakness of character ; and as might be expected with a 
man of kindly disposition, they had a serious effect on his constitution, bring- 
ing him to a comparatively early grave, for in November 1682 he was taken 

1 Philorth Charter-room. " Wednesday, December 9, 1672. Item, for 

2 In the records of the kirk-session of the velvet mortcloth at the Laird of Saltoun's 
Fraserburgh the following entry is found : — buriall, £5, 16s." 


ill, and went from his own residence at Pittullie, which he seems not to have 
relinquished, to his father's house of Philorth, where he expired about eight 
days after his arrival. 

Lord Saltoun being now an aged man, and having disponed all the family 
estates to his grandson, William, who, on his father's death, assumed the title 
of Master of Saltoun, appears to have passed his few remaining years in 
retirement, and in preparation for another and better world. 

He was treated with all consideration and respect by his grandson. He 
had apartments in the house of Philorth and the Castle on Kinnaird Head, 
besides a lodging or house in the town of Fraserburgh, which he seems to 
have occupied when tired of company, and two men-servants were especially 
appointed to wait upon him. 

His decease is thus quaintly recorded in the registry of the Episcopal 
Conoreo-ation of Fraserburgh : — 

" Alexander, Lord Saltoun, came to the lodging on the 10th day of July, 
in the year of God 1693, and he departed out of this life the 11th day of 
August 1693, and was buried in his own Isle in Fraserburgh the 18th of the 
present month. He was of age, going in his eighty-ninth year. He was a 
man that was given to reading of good books, and very much in the exercise 
of prayer, both in his closet ; and when he had occasion to meet with a 
minister or churchman of his own profession : He would alwise desire them 
to pray before they parted with him. 

" He was very civil and kind to all whom he had the freedom to converse 
with. He was also very charitable to the poor, at all occasions, wherever he 
and they did meet. 

" He was carried to the Seatown on the 1 2th day of August, at night. 
August began that year on Tuesday." 1 

Thus peacefully died the old Lord, nearly forty-two years after his narrow 
escape from a more violent fate on the bloody field of Worcester. 

There is no record of the death of his second wife, but he in all probability 
long survived her. 

By his first wife he had a daughter — 

Janet, married to Alexander Fraser of Techmuiry. 

1 Register of the Episcopal Congregation, Fraserburgh. 


By his second wife he had an only son — 

Alexander, afterwards Master of Saltoun, who, as has been mentioned, 
predeceased him, leaving an only surviving son, William, who succeeded his 

And it is probable that by one or the other of his marriages he had a 
second daughter, for a passage in the History of the Troubles of Scotland says, 
" And Patrick Leslie that samen night, about ten hours at even, rode through 
the old toun, about 20 horss, to his son's marriage with Philorthe's daughter, 
which he preferred to that charge, albeit he was ane arch covenanter." 1 

" That charge " was an order from the Eev. Andrew Cant, minister at 
Aberdeen, delivered from the pulpit on the 18th of May 1645, for all to make 
ready to assist Baillie against Montrose. 

Mr. Anderson, at page 112 of his History of the Family of Fraser, quoting 
MSS. of Frasers, Advocates' Library, p. 395, makes the following statement : — 
"In February 1665, Lord Lovat paid a visit to the king at London. Sir 
Alexander Fraser of Philorth introduced him to his Majesty as his Chief." 

It is painful to be obliged to expose, not a mistake, nor even a suppressio 
veri, but an absolute falsification of evidence which he quotes, on the part 
of Mr. Anderson; but it is necessary, and without further comment the 
passages in the MS., which is still in the Advocates' Library, are here given. 
Page 393 : "In February 1665, Lord Lovat, being then past twenty one 
years of age, set out with a noble Eetinue to wait of ye King at London. He 
was conveyed South by his two Uncles, the Tutor and Beaufort, and several 
others of his Clan, who took leave of him at Edin r , and was attended through 
England only by Alexander Fraser, younger of Philorth. . . . He had not bein 
above two days at London when his Lordship, Alex r Fraser, younger of Philorth, 
and Sir Ealph de la Ville, were introduced to the King by Sir Alexander 
Fraser of Dores, one of his Majesty's Physicians." Page 395 : " Sir Alex- 
ander Fraser gave him a Coach, and 4 stately Horses, and, being inferior to 
his son, Sir Peter Fraser, in pride, acknowledged Lord Lovat as his Chief, and 
introduced him to the King as such." 2 

This Sir Alexander Fraser of Dores or Dun-is had acquired that estate by 

1 History of Troubles, vol. ii. p. 477. 

2 The MS. is very clearly written, and is almost as legible as print. 


purchase, but his descent from the old family of that name and designation 
is very doubtful. 

. In the year 1672, after his succession to the title, the tenth Lord Saltoun' s 
armorial bearings were thus blazoned by Sir Charles Erskine (or as he writes 
his name, " Araskine ") of Cambo, Baronet, Lyon king-of-arms. " Alexander, 
Lord Saltone, for his achievement and ensigne armoriall, bears three coats 
quarterlie, first and last, Saphire three fraises pearle ; second, Eubie ane lyon 
rampant pearle ; third, Pearle three piles palewayes rubie." 1 

This was bad heraldry, and the Lyon was as careless as the Herald who a 
few years previously, in 1663, copied the "five fraises placed salterwayes " 
from the shield of the Lords Tester, termed them the arms of " Lord Fraser 
of old," and assigned them to Lord Lovat. 2 

The true bearings of Fraser of Philorth were quarterly, 1st and 4th, Saphire 
three rosettes pearl for Fraser ; 2d and 3d, Euby three lions rampant pearl 
for Eoss ; though these last had through mistake been reduced to one lion 
during the sixteenth century. 

The true bearings of Abernethy Lord Saltoun were quarterly, 1st and 
4th, Topaz a lion rampant ruby, surmounted with a bend dexter diamond for 
Abernethy ; 2d and 3d, Pearl three piles paleways ruby for Wishart ; and 
when these two coats were impaled by the marriage of Alexander Fraser of 
Philorth and Margaret de Abernethy, and borne by their son, Alexander 
Fraser, tenth Lord Saltoun, the correct blazoning would have been, Quarterly, 
1st, Saphire three rosettes pearl ; 2d, Topaz a lion rampant ruby, surmounted 
with a bend dexter diamond ; 3d, Euby three lions rampant pearl ; 4th, Pearl 
three piles paleways ruby. If any of these quarterings could have been 
properly omitted, it would only have been that of Wishart, and certainly 
not that of Fraser, the family name ; nor that of Eoss, by which came the 
estate of Philorth ; nor that of Abernethy, which was identified with the 
title of Saltoun. 

1 Saphire = Azure. Pearl = Argent. 

Paiby = Gules. Topaz = Or. 

Diamond = Sable. 2 See account of Margaret Fraser in Part if. 




BORN 165*, DIED I7TS. 







William Fraser, second son of Alexander Fraser, afterwards Master of 
Saltoun, and the Lady Ann Kerr, was born on the 21st November 1654, 1 and 
with his elder brother, Alexander, was educated at King's College, Aberdeen, 
their names appearing together as having matriculated there in 1667. 2 

At the decease of his elder brother in 1672, he became heir-apparent to 
his father, and very shortly afterwards was deeply engaged with him in those 
lawsuits to which allusion has been made in the latter part of the life of the 
tenth Lord. 

Though powerless to save his grandfather and father from the misfortunes 
which overwhelmed them, he appears to have had much common sense and 
prudence, which prevented his own utter ruin ; and he held fast the reversion 
of the estates, to which he had become entitled by a deed of disposition, which 
their necessities had compelled them to execute in his favour in 1676, and in 
which he had prudently obtained infeftment by royal charter. 3 

He was often, however, very hardly pressed in reference to his pecuniary 
affairs, and in 1679 was forced to go abroad to France, where he remained for 
about a year in great distress, returning to Scotland in September 1680, at 
the request of his grandfather. 4 

In November 1681 he obtained from the Duke of York the command of 
a company of foot, and his father dying in 1682, he assumed the title of 
Master of Saltoun, as heir- apparent to his grandfather. 5 

On the 11th October 1683, at Scotscraig, in Fife, he married Margaret, 
daughter of the venerable James Sharpe, Archbishop of St. Andrews, 6 who 
was so barbarously murdered at Magus Moor, in Fife, on the 3d of May 1679, 
by a party of Covenanters, headed by Balfour of Burley and Hackstoun of 
Rathillet. It was the sister of Margaret Sharpe, who was with the good 

1 Philorth Charter-room. 
- Fasti Aberdon., p. 4S5. 
;; Philorth Charter-room. 

4 Memorandum 

5 Ibid. 

by himself in Philorth 
s Ibid. 

2 B 


prelate when the crime was committed, and who was wounded by the 

With Margaret Sharpe the Master of Saltoun obtained a dowry of 40,000 
merks, a large sum in those days, and having, as above noticed, been put in 
possession of the family estates during the latter years of his grandfather's 
life, he immediately commenced his efforts to repair the fortunes of the family, 
in which, aided by his excellent wife, he persevered steadily with the happiest 

In 1689 he sold, to John Fraser, the estate of Memsie, burdened with 
a feu-duty of 100 merks yearly ; and in the following year he sold, absolutely, 
to Alexander and Margaret Crawford, that part of the lands of Eathen which 
had been leased to their ancestor, Alexander Crawford, in 1613, by the then 
Sir Alexander Fraser of Philorth. 

In 1695, and the next year or two after his succession as Lord Saltoun, 
he was engaged in litigation respecting the lands of Pittullie and Pittendrum. 
He however failed in recovering those estates, but succeeded in freeing 
himself from all further responsibility for his grandfather's and father's 
obligations, to meet which the sacrifice of those properties had been made. 

The litigation of various kinds that had lasted for nearly half a century, 
and had brought the family of Philorth to the verge of ruin, here terminated. 

Most of the northern Abernethy estates fell into the hands of Duff of 
Eraco, and are now the property of his descendant the Earl of Fife ; and the 
lands of Pittullie and Pittendrum, after passing through the hands of various 
proprietors, now belong to Lord Clinton, by his marriage with the heiress 
of Sir John Stuart Forbes, their late possessor. 

William Fraser wrote a long narrative of his own and his father's share 
in these transactions, from which in a great degree the above brief account 
of them has been extracted. 1 

In the year 1693 he succeeded to the title of Lord Saltoun, upon the 
death of his grandfather, the tenth Lord, and on 9th May 1695, he took his 
seat in Parliament and the oath of allegiance. 2 

In 1697, a curious transaction occurred in which he was concerned, and 

1 Philorth Charter-room. 

2 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. ix. pp. 347, 350. 

W x i 

Sit Peter Lely pmx* 

BORN 1613.- MURDERED 1679. 


which strongly exemplifies the very slight authority of the law in the 
Highlands at that period. 

Hugh Fraser, Lord Lovat, in 1685 married the Lady Amelia Murray, 
daughter of John, first Marquis of Athole, and, dying in 1696, left no sur- 
viving male issue, but four daughters. 

By his marriage-contract, in default of male heirs by that or any other 
marriage, he had settled his lordship and barony of Lovat, and his other 
estates, upon his eldest heir-female, without division, contingently upon her 
marrying a gentleman of the name of Fraser ; but he appears, in March 1696, 
not six months before his decease, to have altered this destination, and to 
have disponed his property to his grand-uncle, Thomas Fraser of Beaufort, 
and his heirs-male, though it is questionable whether he had the power of 
legally doing so in the face of the settlement under his marriage-contract. 

The eldest of these four daughters bore the same name as her mother, 
Amelia ; and the Marquis of Athole, in 1697, when she was not above eleven 
years of age, arranged a contract of marriage between her and Lord Saltoun's 
eldest son, the Master of Saltoun, then a boy of about thirteen. 

This gave great umbrage to some of the other branches of the Fraser 
name, and Thomas Fraser of Beaufort, with his eldest surviving son, Simon 
(afterwards the notorious Lord Lovat, executed in 1747), who were the nearest 
male heirs to the late Lord Lovat, determined to prevent the match taking 
place, and for that purpose entered into a confederation with Charles, Lord 

It is difficult to understand what induced Lord Fraser, whose interests 
were not affected, and whose estates were situated in Aberdeenshire, to 
interfere in the affair, and it is not improbable that his motives in doing so 
were political. He was an ardent Jacobite, and very possibly apprehended 
that Lord Saltoun, who was not disposed to rebel against the reigning 
monarch, would use the power which the contemplated alliance would have 
given him in a manner unfavourable to the designs of that party for the 
restoration of the Stewart family to the throne. 

Beaufort and his son Simon having assembled a good many of the leading 
men of the clan at a place called Essick, about four miles from Inverness, on 
the road to Stratherrick, Lord Fraser there met them, and made a speech, 


telling them how severe a master Lord Saltoun would prove to be if his sou 
should marry the heiress of Lovat, and thanking them for their readiness to 
support the pretensions of the Erasers of Beaufort to the succession. 1 

After Lord Eraser's return home to Aberdeenshire he received a letter 
from Thomas Fraser of Beaufort, and some of his party, about twenty-six in 
number, containing a peremptory warning which he was to convey to Lord 
Saltoun, not to come into that part of the country without their leave and 
invitation, which he accordingly intimated to him. 2 

Lord Saltoun, however, disregarded this threat, and in October 1697, 
having visited the dowager Lady Lovat at Castle Downie, near Beauly, was 
returning to Inverness, accompanied by Lord Mungo Murray, and with only 
the usual attendants of gentlemen travelling, when they were met in the 
wood of Bunchrew by Beaufort and his son Simon, at the head of above 
fifty armed men, who attacked them, made them prisoners, dismounted them 
from their horses, and putting them on country garrons, led them to Finellan 
House, where they were imprisoned in separate rooms, and remained for 
about five days, during which time Beaufort and his son, having assembled 
a force of several hundred men, erected a gallows before the house, upon 
which they threatened to hang their prisoners, unless Lord Saltoun engaged 
to proceed no further with the marriage of his son to the heiress of Lovat. 

From Finellan Lord Saltoun and Lord Mungo Murray were taken to the 
rocky island of Aigas, in the Beauly river, and thence brought to Castle 
Downie, of which Beaufort and his son had taken possession, where they 
were at length released, John Fraser of Crechie, according to his own deposi- 
tion, having been instrumental in saving their lives. 3 

The atrocious conduct of Simon Fraser of Beaufort towards the dowager 
Lady Lovat, who fell into his hands at Castle Downie, may be passed over 
in silence (the young heiress, happily for her, had been placed in safety under 
the care of the Marquis of Athole). It may be briefly mentioned that troops 
being sent against Beaufort and his adherents, they were dispersed, and his 
son Simon, not venturing to appear and stand his trial, was, in his absence, 
with nineteen of his associates, sentenced to death on the 5th September 1698, 
for the outrages they had committed. He afterwards had interest enough to 
1 Depositions at the trial of Simon Fraser, March 169S. - Ibid. 3 Ibid. 


procure the royal pardon for these crimes, and to obtain from the Court of 
Session a decision in favour of his claim to the title of Lord Lovat. 1 

The effect of the violent opposition of the Erasers of Beaufort, however, 
was to break off the match between the Master of Saltoun and the heiress 
of Lovat, and the young lady in 1702, married Alexander Mackenzie of 
Prestonhall; while the Master of Saltoun, in 1707, espoused the Lady Mary 
Gordon, daughter of the first Earl of Aberdeen, whose fortune of 18,000 
merks was paid to Lord Saltoun in consequence of settlements made by him 
in favour of the young couple. 

As already mentioned, Lord Saltoun laboured earnestly to retrieve the 
fortunes of the family, and his success was very great. 

In 1676, by the disposition already referred to, he had become the 
nominal proprietor of the estates, but he does not appear to have had the 
real management of them until after his father's death in 1682. 

He was, to a certain degree, assisted by the dowries of his own wife, and 
of his son's, both of which he received ; but without going into particulars, 
suffice it to say that he redeemed above eighty wadsets or mortgages upon 
the property, and besides thus removing incumbrances, was enabled at his 
death to dispose of a sum of ready money, the accumulations of a life of 
frugality and good management, nearly as large as the amount of the debt 
which he had to face upon his accession, and which he had cleared off. 2 

Of this sum of ready money, he left about half between his eldest son, 
the Master of Saltoun, and his eldest grandson, the Master's child; and 
divided the other half between his widow and six younger sons and 

He appears to have taken considerable interest in the mercantile projects 
of the age, and to have been a promoter of the Indian and African Company, 
and other attempts to extend the commerce of the kingdom. 

He was frequent in attendance to his duties in the Scottish Parliament, 
and in 1706 was one of the Peers who strongly opposed the union with 
England, — a proof how little many of the shrewdest and most sensible men of 

1 The present noble family of Lovat are second son of Alexander, Lord Lovat, 1544- 
not descended from this clever but unworthy 1557. 
member of the race, but from Thomas Fraser, 2 Philorth Charter-room. 


that day were able to foresee the incalculable benefits which were to result to 
their country from that measure, though if his opposition was caused by the 
injustice done to the Peers of Scotland in their exclusion as a body from 
sitting and voting in the House of Lords — an injustice still unredressed — 
his motives for it should be approved of by them. 

His health began to decline some months before his death, and, after a 
long illness, he died on the 18th of March 1715, and was buried in the family 
vault at Fraserburgh. 1 

In politics he seems to have been a steady supporter of the reigning 
family, and never to have joined the Jacobite party, from which indeed his 
treatment by Lord Fraser, and Fraser of Beaufort, must have severed him, if 
he ever had any leaning towards it. 

By his wife, Margaret Sharpe, who died in 1734, he left issue three sons 
and four daughters : — 

Alexander, who succeeded him in the title and estates. 

William. 2 


Helen, in 1709, married to James Gordon, eldest son of Sir John Gordon 
of Park, in Banffshire. 

Henrietta, in 1718, married to John Gordon of Kinellar, son to Sir James 
Gordon of Lesmoir, died at Fraserburgh, February 26, 1751. 

Mary, married William Dalmahoy of Eavelrig. 

Isabella, married before 1732 to Mr. David Browne, minister of the 
Gospel at Belhelvie. 




His father's marriage having taken place in October 1683, Alexander 
Fraser, the eldest son of it, was probably born in 1684, or the following year. 

1 Philorth Charter-room. Ham, Lord Saltoun, were admitted honorary 

burgesses of guild of the city of Aberdeen, 
- William and James Fraser, sons of Wil- April 7, 1707. See Appendix. 



BORN CIRCA 1634. DIED 1748. 


He finished his education at the University of Oxford, to which he went 
in 1703 ; and in a letter from Sir Kobert Sibbald to Mr. Lhuyd, on the 10th 
July of that year, it is said of him, "The youth is ingenuous and well 
natured, and I hope shall be an honour to his country." 1 

His engagement of marriage, when a boy of about thirteen years old, to 
the young heiress of Lovat, and the events which caused that match to be 
broken off, have been already narrated in the account of his father ; and in 
1707, as also already mentioned, he married Lady Mary Gordon, daughter of 
the Earl of Aberdeen. 

In 1715, at the decease of his father, he succeeded to the title and 
estates, and also to a part of the personal property by his father's will ; but 
as his acceptance of this bequest rendered him liable to make good any 
deficit in the portions assigned to his brothers and sisters, and to his own 
eldest son, and as the money left by his father was almost all lent to various 
persons upon bonds, and many of those persons were ruined by the bursting, 
in 1721, of the South Sea and other bubble schemes, he appears not only 
to have received no benefit from that bequest, but to have incurred a very 
heavy responsibility, and, indeed, he was forced to pay the legacy left to his 
own eldest son, for which his brother, the Honourable William Fraser of 
Fraserfield, was trustee, and the portion of his youngest sister, Isabella, out 
of his own funds. 

Lord Saltoun appears to have taken an active part in politics, and to 
have frequently attended the elections of Eepresentative Peers. 

At the election of 1721, he entered a protest against the precedency of 
the Lord Forbes, who had been ranked in the Union Eoll premier baron of 
Scotland, Lord Saltoun being placed second; and at the same election he 
objected to Mr. John Campbell, second son of the Earl of Breadalbane, 
assuming his father's title, on the ground of his elder brother, Lord Ormelie, 
having left a son, to which objection it was replied by the Earl of Findlater, 
that the patent created the dignity in favour of John Campbell and his heirs- 
male, and, in his option, any of his younger children that he should nominate 
to succeed him by a writ under his hand, and so it was that the late Earl of 
Breadalbane did appoint the present Earl to succeed him. 
1 Douglas Peerage, vol. ii. p. 477. 


In 1722 there was a general election of the sixteen Representative Peers. 
Thirty-two candidates, of whom Lord Saltoun was one, came forward, and 
though unsuccessful, he had twenty-two votes in his favour. 

At this election he protested against the reception of the proxy of Simon, 
Lord Lovat, in the following terms : — 

" I do protest that no person, in prejudice of the undoubted right of Lady 
Amelia Fraser, Baroness Lovat, may or shall pretend to vote in the election 
of the sixteen Peers to represent the Peers of North Britain, in regard the 
honours and dignity of Lovat are by no patent or deed limited to the heirs- 
male of the late Hugh, Lord Lovat, last deceased, but that dignity did 
descend, and is legally vested in the person of Amelia, Lady Baroness 
Lovat, as heir of line, and eldest daughter of the said Hugh, last Lord Lovat, 
deceased, for that by a decreet of the Lords of Session, dated the 2d day of 
December 1702 years, it is adjudged and declared that the honours and dignity 
of Lovat were in the person of the said Amelia, Lady Baroness of Lovat, 
which decreet stands unreversed, and never any appeal entered against it. 

" Therefore, and for several other reasons to be given to the Most 
Honourable the House of Lords, I do protest against any persons claiming a 
right to vote as Lord Lovat in this present election, and I hereby take 
instruments in the hands of you . . . clerks to the meeting of the Peers, and 
require you to give authentic extracts of this my protest, taken in name and 
behalf of said Lady Lovat by me, and such other noble Peers who shall 
please to adhere to this my protestation. Saltoun." 

The Duke of Athole Lady Lovat's uncle, and the Earl of Cromartie her 
brother-in-law, adhered to this protest, and at the election of 1727 the Earl 
of Dunmore also protested in similar terms against the reception of the vote 
of Simon Fraser as Lord Lovat. 1 

It was, perhaps, this opposition to his vote that caused Simon Fraser to 

engage in litigation with Hugh Fraser, son of the Lady Lovat, and Alexander 

Mackenzie of Prestonhall, who had taken the name of Fraser and designation 

of Fraserdale, in which he obtained, in 1730, a decision of the Court of Session 

favourable to his claim, 2 which he also fortified by other measures and com- 

1 Robertson's Proceedings of Scottish Peers, 

- Records of the Court of Session in Register Office, Edinburgh. 


promises with Hugh Eraser; and no further objection was offered to his 
assuming the title of Lord Lovat, although there was still such uncer- 
tainty as to his right, that when brought to his last trial for high treason 
in 1747, it was matter for deliberation as to how he should be tried, lest 
if impeached as a Peer he might claim to be a commoner, and if as a 
commoner, assert himself a Peer. Ultimately he was tried, and sentenced 
as a Peer, which, without being absolute proof of the justice of his claim, 
yet affirms the last decision of the Court of Session upon the question in 
1730. 1 

At the general election of 1734, Lord Saltoun was one of the twenty 
Peers who adhered to the protest made by the Duke of Hamilton and 
Brandon against the undue influence of the ministry of the day in the 
election of Eepresentative Peers, but he declared that in signing the protest 
lie did not include the names of the Marquis of Lothian and the Earl of 
Balcarres in the list therein mentioned. 

Another protest against the election of the sixteen Eepresentative 
Peers on the same grounds was signed by the same twenty Peers, and a 
petition to the House of Lords followed ; but the petitioners being required 
to name the persons they accused, and declining to do so, the petition was 
dismissed. 2 

Lord Saltoun seems, upon the whole, to have been a consistent supporter 
of the established Government and reigning royal family ; the only evidence 
of his ever having in any way approached the Jacobite party is found in a 
letter from Simon, Lord Lovat. 

Lord Lovat thus writes, in 1 741, from Edinburgh to a cousin of his own, 
but his well-known duplicity renders any statement of his doubtful, and it 
may have been only an attempt to implicate one he regarded as an enemy : — 3 

" At the same time that I received your letter I had the honor to receive 
a most gracious and most oblidging letter from my Lord Saltoun. No 
Stratherrick man could write to me in more kindly terms. He begs my 
advice in the present criticall situation of affairs. 

" I took the libertie to show his letter and yours to the Earl of Aberdeen 

1 State Trials. 3 Spalding Club Miscellany, vol. ii. p. 

2 Robertson's Proceedings of Scottish Peers. 23. 

2 c 


who spoke most kindly of you, and laughed heartily at your postscript ; but 
he is very much afraid that my Lord Saltoun may be led astray, and he 
instructed me to write to you that, when you see my Lord Saltoun, you may 
speak strongly to him, that he should take care not to bring a disgrace and 
stigma upon his noble family that was always loyall to their king and 
country, by abandoning now the interest of his country and the noble farnilys 
that stand up for it, and that for a pitiful pension that perhaps he would 
never receive a sixpence of. 1 am resolved to write all this to my Lord 
Saltoun myself, which I will do, and send at the same time with your 

It does not appear, however, that any overtures that may have been made 
to him were successful in inducing Lord Saltoun to join the Jacobites, and 
he certainly did not take part in the rising of 1745, and in 1746 was on the 
Government side, as the following letter, which is taken from the diary of 
the Eev. John Bisset, a clergyman of Aberdeen, will show : — January 8, 
1746. — "I hear it likewise said, but I believe it is a story, that one in the 
habit of a gentleman came in the Kinghorn boat to Fraserburgh, asking 
about Lord Stricken, and was told he was then at Philorth, Lord Saltoun's, 
whereupon he immediately went thither. The Jacobites in Fraserburgh, 
repenting they had let him out of their grips, came to Philorth, would 
have the stranger, who, seeing that, called Lord Strichen to another room, 
gave him despatches, returning to where they were, gave his watch and 
money to Lord Strichen, then gave himself up to the Fraserburghers, who 
made him their prisoner, but finding nothing about him, could have been 
content they had not made him their prisoner. 

" Immediately Lord Strichen horsed for London. 

" I write you such stories as an amusement for lack of news, but I have 
seen the day when the Fraserburghers would not have dared to surround 
Lord Saltoun's house. It was a pity they did not carry the two Lords with 
them prisoners also." 1 

Although his sympathies seem to have been on the side of the established 
Government during the rising, yet he is not found to have taken any active 
part at the time, and this may have been due to failing health, for his last 
1 Spalding Club Miscellany, vol. i. p. 36S. 


BORN CIRCA 1710 DIED S. P. 1751 


attendance at the elections of Eepresentative Peers was in 1742, and on the 
24th of July 1748 he died, when about 64 years of age. 1 

He left issue — 

Alexander, Master of Saltoun, who succeeded him. 

William, who died unmarried, 22d November 1748, soon after his 

George, who afterwards succeeded his brother Alexander. 

Ann, died unmarried, 18th April 1807, at Fraserburgh. 

Sophia, died unmarried, 4th April 1784, at Fraserburgh. 



The birth of Alexander Fraser, eldest son of the twelfth Lord Saltoun, 
took place in 171 0, 2 and he is mentioned by name in his grandfather's will in 
1714. It is doubtful where he was educated; but there are extant some 
memoranda of a considerable tour abroad made by him while Master of Saltoun, 
during the years 1729, 1730, and 1731, in the course of which he visited Paris, 
Orleans, Angers, Bordeaux, Toulouse, and other principal towns in Europe ; 
but the details of his journey are not of much interest, consisting chiefly of 
the expenditure on his account by Mr. William Garioch, the tutor who 
accompanied him. While in Paris, the Master and his tutor appear to have 
led a pleasant life. They gave suppers to their countrymen, and in January 
1730, they entertained at supper the Duke of Kingston at an expense of £38, 
13s., and on the same occasion the Duke's servants received £24. 

His uncle, the Honourable William Fraser of Fraserfield, had been appointed 
trustee for the provision in his favour by his grandfather's will, and took care 
to enforce payment of it, so that, upon coming of age, the Master of Saltoun 
found himself in possession of an independent income during his father's 
lifetime, and this may have been one reason for his having been so little at 
home before Iris succession to the title, and for his having, as tradition asserts, 
1 Philorth Charter-room. 2 Ibid. 


spent a somewhat gay and extravagant life abroad, and in London, which 
tastes and associations may, however, have prevented his being involved in 
the troubles of 1745-6. 

His father dying in July 1748, he succeeded to the title and estates, and 
in October of that year was served heir to him, and also to his grandfather, 
the eleventh Lord. 

Only one attendance on his part at an election of Kepresentative Peers 
is recorded in 1750 j 1 and his tenure of the family property was but brief, 
for he died on the 10th of October 1751. 2 

He never married, and was succeeded by his only surviving brother — 

George Fraser. 



George Eraser, the third son of the twelfth Lord Saltoun, was ten years 
younger than the brother to whom he succeeded, having been born on the 
13th July 1720. 3 

An anecdote is related of him, during his early years, that shows him to 
have been endowed with a certain amount of dry humour. 

When he had reached an age to form some idea of what his future career 
should be, his father took an opportunity of saying, " George, you are growing 
a big fellow now, and you must not be an idle man, so I should like to hear 
what profession you think of following ; take a few days to consider of it, and 
let me know." In about a week his father returned to the subject, and said 
to him, " Well, have you thought over the matter, and made up your mind 
as to what you would like to be?" 

" Yes, I have, sir," said George, " and I think I should like to be a 

" A tanner ! what on earth do you mean ?" 

1 Robertson's Proceedings of Scottish Peers. 

2 Pkilortk Charter-room. 3 Ibid. 


Ey Martin 



BORN 1720, DIED 17SI . 


" Why, sir," replied George, " it's a very thriving trade, and it requires so 
little capital ; you see I should only want three hides, yours and my two 
brothers', and then I should be set up, you know !" 

Tradition says that the joke tickled the old Lord's fancy so much, that 
he forgave George his impudence for the sake of his fun. 

George chose the life of a soldier, and obtained a commission in the 
Eoyal Marines ; but from the absence of all record of individual services 
until a later period, no trace can be found of his connection with that corps, 
in which he is said to have risen to the rank of lieutenant. 

His name appears enrolled among the honorary burgesses of Aberdeen in 
October 1747, and on the 10th October 1751 he succeeded the thirteenth 
Lord in the title and entailed estates (having become his heir on the decease of 
their intermediate brother, William, in November 1748), and, in the phraseo- 
logy of his boyish days, obtained the last of the three hides which he had 
then estimated as his capital. 

He also succeeded his brother, the thirteenth Lord, in some unentailed 
lands, viz., Cairness, with part of Invernorth, and Cairnbulg, which their 
father had repurchased ; but as this last acquisition made him liable for his 
brother's debts, he gained but little advantage from it, and had to sell a large 
portion of them for the benefit of the creditors. 1 

He married his first cousin, Eleanor Gordon, daughter of his aunt, 
Henrietta Eraser, and her husband, John Gordon of Kinellar, on the 30th of 
May 1756. She was born at Kinnaird Head on the 4th of August 1731. 

After his succession he seems to have taken a certain amount of interest 
in public affairs, and he voted pretty constantly at the elections of Eepre- 
sentative Peers by proxy or signed list, though his personal attendances were 
not numerous. 

In 1778, Mr. Munro Eoss of Pitcalnie, as heir-male of Hugh de Eoss of 
Earichies, brother to William, the Earl of Eoss in 1370, presented a petition 
to the Crown, claiming the title of Earl of Eoss. 

The petition was referred to the House of Lords, but the claim was not 
followed up by the petitioner. Lord Saltoun, as an heir of the ancient Earls 
of Eoss, does not appear to have taken any steps to oppose these pretensions. 

1 Philorth Charter- room. 


They may not have reached the stage at which opposition was requisite, or 
he may have been unaware of his own right, for if the annexation of the 
Earldom of Eoss to the Crown, which took place in 1476, were annulled, and 
the title restored to be borne by a subject other than one of the Royal 
Family, it ought in justice to devolve, by the charter of David II., granted 
in 1370, under which it passed through five successions, upon the legitimate 
heirs of John, Earl of Eoss and Lord of the Isles (from whom it was taken), 
the great-grandson of Euphemia, Countess of Eoss, elder daughter and heiress 
of William, the Earl of Eoss to whom that charter was given ; and failing 
them, upon the legitimate heirs of Lady Johanna de Eoss, the Earl's second 
daughter, who were the Frasers Lords Saltoun. But the title of Earl of Eoss 
could in no way rightfully appertain to any descendant of Hugh de Eoss of 
Earichies, the Earl's brother, until the legitimate descendants of Euphemia 
and Johanna became extinct. 

Lord Saltoun appears to have led a quiet and rather secluded life at 
Philorth, occupied in the management of his estate and the education of his 
family, until 1781, when he died there on the 30th of August, shortly after 
the completion of his sixty-first year. 1 

By his wife, Eleanor Gordon, who survived him and died in 1800, he had 
seven children, of whom five were living at his decease — 

Alexander, his successor. 

George, born 12th June, died 4th October 1759. 

John, born 18th January 1762, died 6th June 1772. 

George, born 29th March 1763, served in 42d and 60th Eegiments, 
became captain in the 59th, died at Nevis, in the West Indies, unmarried, 8th 
January 1799. 

Henrietta, born 20th July 1757, died unmarried, 1826. 

Mary, born 27th October 1760, died unmarried, 1809. 

Eleanora, born 29th March. 1766, married, 1st, in 1786, Sir George 
Eamsay, Baronet, of Banff, who died 1790; and, 2d, in 1792, Mr., afterwards 
Lieutenant-General, Campbell of Lochnell, but had no issue by either 

1 Philorth Charter-room. 

By West from a Miniature 

BORN 1758, DIED 1793. 

DIED NOV" I5 T " 1851, STAT. q]. 




Alexander, eldest sou of George, fourteenth Lord Saltoun, was born at 
Philortk on the 27th of June 1758. 1 

He received a liberal education, with a view to his adopting the legal 
profession, and in 1780, when about twenty-two years of age, he was admitted 
to the Scottish Bar, according to the following extract : — 

" Mr. Swinton in the chair. 

"The Hon ,jle Alexander Eraser, son of the Right Hon TlIe George, Lord 
Saltoun, was publicly examined on Tit. VIII. Lib. xliii. Pand. ne quid in loco 
publico vel itinere fiat ; and was found sufficiently qualified, and was recom- 
mended to the Dean, to assign him a case out of the said title, for subject of 
his discourse to the Lords and Faculty. John Swinton, V.D." 2 

His career at the Bar was, however, a very short one, if, indeed, he ever- 
obtained any practice ; for in little more than a year he succeeded to the 
family title and estates, in consequence of the death of his father, on the 
30th August 1781. 3 

In the various arrangements which this event rendered necessary, his 
character shows to advantage. He was generous and kind to his brother and 
sisters ; and towards his mother, who appears to have been clever, but some- 
what imperious and exacting, he used such a mixture of gentleness and firm- 
ness, highly commendable in so young a man, that he preserved unimpaired 
the good feeling and affection which ought to exist between such relations. 

After settling these affairs, he appears to have gone abroad about January 
1782, and travelled on the Continent for some time, but he returned before 
the election of Representative Peers on the 24th July of that year, at which he 
was present ; and at the following election, on the 8th May 1784, he was one 
of the candidates, and, though unsuccessful, had fifteen votes in his favour. 

1 Philorth Charter-room. 

2 Minutes of Faculty, 1751-1788, p. 475. 

3 Philorth Charter-room. 


At the same election, upon Lord Saltoun being called to give his vote, 
Sir Walter Montgomery Cunningham of Corsehill, Baronet, taking the desig- 
nation of Lord Lyle, gave in the following protest : — 

"I, Walter, Lord Lyle, do hereby require you, Alexander Orme and 
George Home, deputes to the Lord Eegister for Scotland, and clerks 
officiating at the election of sixteen Peers to represent the Scotch Peerage in 
the Parliament of Great Britain, to receive my vote as a Peer of Scotland for 
the Peers following, viz., the Duke of Queensberry, Earls of Glencairn, 
Eglintoune, Casilis, Kellie, Lauderdale, Drumfries, Dalhousie, Dysart, and 
Selkirk, Viscount Stormont, Lords Saltoun, Cathcart, Elphinstone, Cranstoun, 
and Kinnaird ; and I protest that if the same shall be refused, my votes in 
the present election shall nevertheless be as valid and effectual as if my 
name had stood on the Eoll, commonly called the Union Eoll ; and I had 
been regularly called to give my said votes on the present occasion, and had 
given the same accordingly. Lyle." 

" Holyrood House, 

"At Edinburgh, the 8th May 1784." 

Lord Saltoun does not seem to have disputed Lord Lyle's claim to be 
considered a Scottish Peer, but he in turn protested against him for pre- 
cedency, to which protest Lord Cathcart adhered 

His protest was in these words : — 

" We, Alexander, Lord Saltoun, do protest, for myself, and in the name of 
all the other Peers who shall adhere to this my protestation, that Baron 
Lord Lyle cannot be admitted to vote in this election of Peers next in order 
to Lord Forbes, because — 

" 1st, The title of Lord Saltoun is more ancient than that of Lord Lyle ; 

" 2dly, By the judgment of the Court of Session in 1606, settling the 
precedency of the Peers of Scotland, and by the Eoll of the Union Parliament 
Lord Saltoun is ranked, and has an established right to precedency, next in 
order to Lord Forbes." 


Lord Cathcart immediately afterwards protested against Lord Saltoun 
being called before him, to which protest the latter probably returned a 
similar reply. 1 

At the election of representative Peers on the 28th of March 1787 he 
attended, and supported the protest by the Earl of Selkirk against the votes 
of Peers, created British Peers since the Union, being received, which protest 
also received the adherence of seventeen other Peers of Scotland. 2 

On the 9th June 1784, Lord Saltoun married Margery, daughter, and 
ultimately heiress, of Simon Fraser, Esq. of Ness Castle, in consequence of 
which alliance his son and successor acquired a considerable increase of 
property, in addition to obtaining the inestimable blessing of one of the best 
of mothers. 3 

Her father, Simon Fraser, was a member of the Highland clan of that 
name, and his progenitors were settled in the district of Stratherrick, in the 
county of Inverness. 

Born in 1727, he speedily raised himself from obscurity by his talent and 
industry, and at the time of his daughter's marriage he was the head of a 
West India mercantile firm in the city of London, and a very wealthy man. 

His character, as evinced in such of his correspondence as is extant, 
shows great capacity for business, joined to a kind disposition and warm 
heart ; and he was remarkable for his readiness to lend a helping hand to 
the deserving young men of his native country who were striving to push 
their fortune, as he himself had once done. 

When at Gibraltar he had married Miss Wilson (whose sister married 
John Markett, Esq. of Meponcourt Lodge, in the county of Kent, then a 
captain in the 3d Buffs), and his family consisted of two children, a daughter, 
Lady Saltoun, and a son, who bore the same name as himself, Simon, but 
who caused him much anxiety and trouble. 

Young Simon Fraser's failings, however, seem to have been more those of 
the head than the heart, and he does not appear to have indulged in any 
serious vice ; but he had an inaptitude for business, and wished to enjoy at 
once the advantages which a share in the mercantile house, as his father's 

1 Robertson's Proceedings of Scottish Peers. 3 Register of St. Stephen's, Coleman Street, 

2 Ibid. London. 

2 D 


heir, would give him, while the old gentleman was no less resolved that he 
should enter it as an ordinary clerk, and thoroughly learn his business by 
undergoing the hard work that he himself had experienced ; and hence the 
differences that arose between them, which were again and again renewed 
until the year 1790, when, upon young Simon positively refusing to take a 
subordinate place in the office, his father proposed to send him to the West 
Indies, to look after some of the estates belonging to the firm in those 

He sailed for that destination about the end of that year, and died soon 
after his arrival there. 

A letter from him to Lord Saltoun, just before his departure, shows them 
to have been excellent friends, and that his brother-in-law had often endea- 
voured, by good advice, to check him in his somewhat headstrong career. 1 

Upon the decease of her brother, Lady Saltoun became heiress of her 
father. He had purchased some of the lands near Inverness, forfeited after 
the Eebellion of 1745, and sold by Government, viz., Borlum, Kinchyle, etc., 
which formed the estate of Ness Castle ; and, after his son's death, he 
employed some of his surplus funds in buying back a considerable amount of 
property, viz., the lands of Tyrie and Cardno, etc., which had been sold by 
former proprietors of Philorth, and entailing them upon his daughter's 

He preserved his energies almost unimpaired until the year 1808, when 
failing health caused him to withdraw from the mercantile house of which he 
had so long been the head ; and about two years later he died, on the 1 9th 
of May 1810, at eighty-three years of age. 

After enjoying a tour on the Continent, Lord and Lady Saltoun took 
up their residence at Philorth, and Lord Saltoun soon began to employ his 
active mind in the affairs of the country, to which he joined literary pursuits 
and careful supervision of the management of his property ; but though he 
did all in his power as a good landlord, making many improvements, and 
planting considerably, the time had not arrived for the extraordinary advance 
in the agriculture of the north-eastern district of Scotland which distin- 
guished the first half of the present century, and is still going on. 
1 Letters in Philorth Charter-room. 


BORN 17 27 -DIED 1810. 


In the summer of 1785, while posting from London to Philorth, he noticed 
the fact that the charge for the hire of post-horses north of the Firth of Forth 
was much in excess of that in the southern districts of Scotland and in 
England ; and the following circular letter, which he wrote to the respective 
conveners of the counties of Perth, Forfar, Fife, Kincardine, Banff, Moray, 
Inverness, Nairn, Kinross, and Aberdeen, will give an account of his pro- 
ceedings in the matter. From all he received replies acknowledging the great 
benefit conferred upon the public by attention being called to it : — 

"September 1786. 

" SlR, — As the publick at large are much interested in the matter I am 
now to state to you, I hope you will lay the same before the Noblemen and 
Gentlemen of your County at the ensuing Michaelmas Head Court, not 
doubting but they will be disposed to pay all due attention to it. 

" Having occasion last summer to post from London in a carriage of my 
own, which required four horses, I was uniformly charged on the English 
roads, and to the south of Queen's ferry, no more than one shilling and seven 
pence sterling per mile, made up of 9 d for the shaft horses, 6 d for the leaders, 
and 4 d of King's duty : But when I came to Kinross, a demand was made of 
l s /10 d per mile, and the same at every stage all the way to Aberdeen. I 
refused to pay, and did not in fact pay, more than l s /7 d till I reached 
Stonehaven, where the landlord would not furnish me with horses till I 
complied with his demand of P/lO* 1 per mile. 

" I raised a prosecution of him, before the Sheriff of Kincardine, for 
restitution of the overcharge, in which I prevailed : but the defendant, 
having got all his brethren betwixt and the north ferry to join him, brought 
the matter before the Court of Session by bill of suspension. Their Lord- 
ships declared their sentiments of the impropriety of the charge, but, in 
respect of the former usage, passed the bill, and suggested that it belonged to 
the Justices of Peace to correct the abuse, recommending to them to make a 
general regulation in the northern counties, fixing the like rates for post 
horses with those paid on the south side of the Forth, as they saw no reason 
for any increase of charge to the northward, and that the present usage 
evidently appeared to be a gross abuse, and imposition upon the public. 


" In this light I natter myself the Noblemen and Gentlemen of your 
County will view it, and will, of course, take the necessary measures to 
enforce the recommendation of the Supreme Court, which I think it my duty 
in this manner to submit to their consideration. 

" I have the honour to be, etc., 

" Saltoun." 

The above letter is inserted not as being of any present importance, but 
as containing a curious record of the expense of travelling nearly a hundred 
years ago, which, however, at a later period was almost doubled, Is. 6d. being 
the charge per mile for each pair of horses, until the iron steed increased the 
rapidity and diminished the cost of transit from one part of the country to 

Lord Saltoun did not generally keep copies of his own letters, but he 
preserved many of those written to him by his friends, from which some 
extracts may be of interest. 

In October 1785, Mr. Alexander Fraser of Staples Inn, London, writes the 
following account of Irish affairs : — 1 

" It seems determined that Parliament shall not meet till the latter end 
of January, and in the meantime the Irish will meet, and the shop-tax be 
carried into execution. I am told many semi-proselytes have been made in 
Ireland of late, and by the meeting of Parliament your Lordship will find a 
new light thrown upon the propositions, by weighty arguments no doubt. 
One specious, and indeed most convincing argument of any, and one is 
founded upon a report now industriously circulated (and not without some 
reason too), of the Eoman Catholic families, who were forfeited in Queen 
Elizabeth's time, and since, keeping exact records, both at home and in 
convents abroad, of the property so forfeited, and regularly serving, or at 
least making regular entries of the lawful descendants of such persons, in hope 
of being some day in condition to recover them in the same strong-hand 
manner in which they were evicted. The Catholicks are as seven to one, and 
many Protestants were forfeited at the Revolution. The present proprietors 
hold their lands by virtue of English declaratory laws, yet the Irish want a 

1 Prior to the Irish Union in 1801. 


declaratory law of their own, ' That this country had not, nor has not any 
jurisdiction over them, nor any powers to bind them by any laws what- 
soever.' 1 In case of their separation from this country, France would 
naturally support the Catholicks in their demands of restitution. Possession 
would then be weak against force, accompanied by such claims. Catholicks 
are good casuists and bad civilians ; they coidd easily say to the present 
holders, ' semel rualus semper malus, et quod initio vitiosuni est, tractu 
temporis non convalesced' But be this as it will, it is a notorious fact that 
an officer in the French service did lately offer 1000 Louis to a poor man 
near Cork, for his claims on the great ShanDon estate, whereof his grand- 
father's great-grandfather was deprived. But the sons of the man would 
not assign their birthright as they call it. This may all turn out a ministerial 

Among Lord Saltoun's papers is the following analysis of the Aberdeen- 
shire election of 28th February 1786, when a keen contest took place between 
Mr. Skene of Skene and Mr. Ferguson of Pitfour, in which the former was 
victorious ; and it is considered worthy of preservation, as a record of the 
constituency of the county at that date : — 

" Aberdeenshire Election, February 28th 1786. 

Disqualified by office, . . 1 

Alexander Udny of Udny. 
Did not attend, ... 8 

James Farquharson of Invercauld. 

Alex r Ogilvie of Auchirries. 

Alex r Bisset of Lessendrum. 

Gen 1 Robert Fullerton of Dudwick. 

Col 1 Harry Gordon of Knockespack. 

Francis Farquharson of Finzeau. 

John Bamsey of Barra. 

W m Gerard of Midstrath. 
Present, but did not vote, . . 1 

John Gordon of Craig. 

1 Home Rule seems to be no new invention in Ireland. 



Expunged the Eoll, ... 1 

Col 1 Henry Knight of Pittodrie. 
Paired off for Skene, ... 2 

John Turner of Turnerhall. 
Eobert Turner of Menie. 
Paired off for Pitf our, . ■ . 2 

John Gordon of Balmoor. 
Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo. 
" N.B. — Amongst the number of nominal voters are included three heirs 
apparent ; two for Pitf our. 

"William Fraser, younger of Inverallochie, and 
Alex r Leith of Glenkindy. 
One for Skene. — Peter Gordon, younger of Abergeldie." 

" Real Proprietors for Mr. Skene. 

John Ross of Arnage. 
Gen 1 Benjamin Gordon of Balbithan. 
Andrew Skene of Dyce. 
Gen 1 Robert Horn Elphistone of West- 
Keith Urquhart of Meldrum. 5 

William Fraser of Fraserfield. 
James Ligertwood of Tillery. 
Charles Gordon of Abergeldie. 
William Duff of Corsindae. 
Andrew Robertson of Foveran. 1 

William Wemyss of Craighall. 
Alexander Innes of Breda. 
John Duff of Hatton. 
John Paton of Grandliome. 
James, Earl of Fife. 1 5 

Alex r Russell of Old Deer. 
Alex r Dirom of Muiresk. 
Sir Ernest Gordon of Cobairdie. 
Lewis Innes of Balnacraig. 
Hon ble Alexander Duff of Echt. 20 

Thomas Gordon of Premnay. 

Real Proprietors for Mr. Ferguson. 

Charles Fraser of Inverallochie. 
William Dingwall of Brucklaw. 
Alex r Leith of Freefield. 
Hugh Forbes of Schivas. 

Alex r Morison of Bognie. 
Sir Archibald Grant of Monymusk. 
W m Brebner of Lairnie. 
Hon ble Gen 1 W m Gordon of Fy vie. 
Robert Gordon of Hallhead. 
Alex r Fraser of Strichen. 
James Ferguson of Pitfour. 
William Urquhart of Craigston. 
John Gordon of Lenturk. 
John Lumsden of Cushnie. 
D r Alex r Hay of Cocklaw. 
Robert Stevens of Broadland. 
Arthur Dingwall Fordyce of Culsh. 
Thomas Buchan of Auchmacoy. 
Charles Gordon of Wardhouse. 
William Farquharson of Bruxie. 
John Dingwall of Ranniston. 






D r Alex 1 ' Bannerman of Kirkhill. 
Admiral Robert Duff of Logie. 
Sir William Forbes of Craigievar. 
Duncan Forbes Mitchell of Thain- 

ston. 25 

James Jopp of Cotton. 
George Leith of Overhall. 
George Skene of Skene. 
Co 1 Alex r Leith of Leith-hall. 
Sir Robert Burnett of Leys. 30 

John Burnett of Elrick. 
George Robinson of Gask. 
John Gordon Cumine of Pitlurs;. 33 

Alex r Irvine of Drum. 
William Forbes Leith of Whitehaugh. 
Alex r Anderson of Cundacraig. 
Alex r Burnett of Kemnay. 

D r James Anderson of Moonie. 
John Dyce of Tillygreig. 
Francis Garden Lord Gardenston. 
William Cumine of Pitullie. 

. . . Cumine of Auchry. 
James Moir of Invernettie. 
Alex r Farquharson of Haughton. 

. . . Fergusson of Kinmundie. 
John Taylor of Portertoun. 

Claims refused by the Meeting — 

Col 1 Charles Gordon of Shilogreen. 
John Byron Gordon of Gight. 
. . . Maitland of Pitrichie. 

" Electors present, 

For Skene — Real, 

Nominal, . 

For Pitfour- 






— 62 


— 52 




Majority for Skene, 

In the year 1786, Lord Saltoun's attention was called to the practice of 
the Dutch and other foreign fishing vessels pursuing their occupation in 
British waters, a practice which probably affected the interests of the inhabi- 
tants of his town of Fraserburgh, in common with the other seaports of the 
east coast ; and he had some correspondence upon the subject with the 
Treasury, and with Mr. Hunter Blair, then Lord Provost of Edinburgh, from 
the latter of whom he received the following reply : — 

My Lord, — On receiving the honor of your Lordship's letter of the 15th 


iustaut, I communicated it to the Secretary of the Trustees of the Fisheries. 
I also mentioned it to a sensible, intelligent officer at the Custom-house, but 
neither of them can discover any law which prohibits the boats you mention 
from plying or fishing upon the coast. I am glad that your Lordship has 
written to the Treasury, because they may be better acquainted than we are 
in laws of treaties respecting nations mutually fishing on their respective 
coasts. The country is certainly much obliged to your Lordship's attentions. 
" I have the honor to be, with esteem and regard, 
" My Lord, 

" Your Lordship's most obedient and most humble servant, 

" J. Hunter Blair." 
" Edinburgh, 25th May 1786." 

Endorsed in Lord Saltoun's hand : " Eespecting the Dutch fishing on the 
coast of Scotland." 

Amongst other local affairs in 1787, Lord Saltoun interested himself in a 
question concerning the minister's glebe at Strichen, a village about eight 
miles from Philortb, which came before the General Assembly in that year, 
and he was induced to do so by his friendship for Alexander Fraser, then 
Laird of Strichen, great-grandfather of the present Lord Lovat, on whose 
behalf he wrote to the famous Henry Erskine, the celebrated Scottish barrister 
and wit, whose reply is here inserted : — 

"Edinburgh, May 11th 1787. 

" My dear Lord, — I should immediately have acknowledged the honor 
of your Lordship's very friendly letter of the 5th current, had I not delayed 
until I should have an opportunity of seeing Mr. James Fraser. 

" From what I have seen of that case, I am clear the zeal of the Eev d 
gentleman has a very different source from that of regard for the interest of 
the church, which can at best be very little affected by the issue of the 

" I shall give Mr. Fraser of Strichen professionally the best advice in my 
power as to this business, and the conduct thereof. I am very happy to 
think that, from the view I now take of it, I shall be able in my place 
as member of Assembly to resist the application of the funds of the church 
to defray the expense of disputing a transaction that has now nearly run the 


course of prescription, and that, whether originally perfectly even or not, 
exhibits no marks of collusion or unfairness, and on the faith of which the 
family of Strichen has so long afforded the incumbent the free run of thirteen 
acres of ground, for which, were the excambion now to be set aside, they 
would have no equivalent. 

" Be assured, my dear Lord, that I shall ever with the greatest pleasure 
embrace any opportunity of showing my sense of your friendship, and the 
real respect and regard with which 

" I am your most faithful and obedient servant, 

" Henry Ekskine." 

In 1787, Lord Saltoun entered into an excambion or agreement of 
exchange with his feuars of Fraserburgh, by which the latter relinquished 
certain rights of property, commonty, and servitude, which they enjoyed over 
various portions of the estates, in return for some lands granted to them by 
him, which were situated in closer proximity to the town ; and this agreement, 
which was to the advantage of both parties, was formally ratified in the 
succeeding year. 

His early studies had probably given a direction to his literary labours, 
and in 1788 he published a work, intituled " Thoughts on the Disqualification 
of the eldest sons of the Peers of Scotland to sit from that country in Par- 
liament ; with observations on the civil polity of the Kingdom." In his 
observations he displayed considerable historical research and legal knowledge, 
and the book was highly commended by some of his friends ; but did not 
treat of a subject in which the general public were much interested, though 
now the disqualification has long been a thing of the past, and, from a 
passage in the Earl of Buchan's letter of 31st October 1791, given further 
on, would seem to have been removed within three years after the publica- 
tion of Lord Saltoun's work. 

In a letter of the 31st July, William Fraser, younger of Fraserfield, says, 
in reference to the subject, " The case I put, however, and have not heard 
answered in a satisfactory way, is of Lord Huntly, and his brother Lord 
Alexander. The one is heir to an immense estate, the other may be serving 
the king as a captain or cornet ; which is to he supposed most attentive to 

2 E 


the landed interest of the country ?" And Lord Gardenstone also writes : " I 
take this occasion to thank your Lordship for the present of your book, 
which I value very much, both for the matter and composition." 

A sad event occurred in the spring of 1790, which brought great sorrow 
to Lord Saltoun and his family. This was the death of Sir George Eamsay, 
his brother-in-law, who was mortally wounded in a duel with Captain Macrae, 
on the 14th April, and died on the 16th. The quarrel was altogether of 
Macrae's seeking, who is called " that madman Macrae " in one of the letters 
written at the time, and appears to have been of a turbulent and vindictive 
disposition. He had some dispute, at the door of the theatre in Edinburgh, 
with a footman in Sir George's service. Macrae used personal violence to the 
servant, and though neither Sir George nor any of his family were concerned 
in the affair, Macrae demanded that the servant should be dismissed, which 
demand, however, was refused, Sir George saying that he could not see how 
the servant had been much in fault, and that he would not dismiss him until 
it should appear that he had acted improperly. The servant, however, a day 
or two afterwards, summoned Macrae before the Magistrates for the assault, 
and upon this Macrae wrote an insolent letter to Sir George, reiterating his 
demand for the dismissal of the man, upon the ground of his having commenced 
this prosecution. Sir George in his answer stated that he was ignorant of the 
prosecution until the receipt of Macrae's letter, that it had no encouragement 
from him, but that he did not think it incumbent on him to interfere in any 
way. This produced another note from Captain Macrae, insisting on the 
dismissal of the servant, and saying that it was sent by the hands of his friend 
Mr. Amory, who, in the event of noncompliance, was commissioned to inform 
Sir George of the opinion of his conduct entertained by Captain Macrae, 
and who accordingly did so in no measured language, and the result was 
the meeting at Musselburgh on the 14th, at which Sir William Maxwell, who 
was second to Sir George, and Mr. Amory, endeavoured to accommodate 
matters, but were unable to do so. It was matter of much regret that it was 
not the person who provoked the duel that was the victim of it, instead of the 
innocent Sir George Eamsay. 

In a letter from Mr. Eraser of Gortuleg to Lord Saltoun, of the 15th April, 
after mentioning the unavailing attempts of the seconds at reconciliation, he 


says : — " By all accounts nothing could be more insolent and improper than 
the conduct of Macrae, and nothing more composed, and at the same time 
more determined and manly, than Sir George's conduct throughout ; and his 
friend Sir William Maxwell is uncommonly good-humoured and conciliatory. 
All this, however, is but a melancholy kind of consolation to the worthy 
man's relations and friends, if he falls a sacrifice to the pride and insolence 
of so strange a person, who seems to have little other employment than to 
pick up quarrels in that manner. Indeed he has been so conspicuous in that 
way, that it will be strange if he escapes punishment, should the conse- 
quences prove so fatal as is dreaded." 

Lord Saltoun did all in his power to comfort his sister in her distress, 
and in 1792 she married Mr., afterwards Lieutenant-General, Duncan Camp- 
bell of Lochnell, in the county of Argyll. 

In 1791 Lord Saltoun took much interest in a project for obtaining a 
good map of the counties of Aberdeen and Banff, which was also warmly sup- 
ported by several other gentlemen ; and having written to the celebrated Jean, 
Duchess of Gordon, on the subject, the reply of her Grace is here given : — 

" Gordon Castle, Monday. 

" You do me much honor, My Good Lord, in wishing my name at the 
List you mention : Such a Map as you propose will be most useful ; but, 
independent of that, you may at all times command my subscription to any 
paper patronised by your Lordship. Upon our return we talked of nothing but 
the joys of the Banff meeting. I hope you are of our opinion, that nothing 
could be more pleasant, every body seemed willing to please, and be pleased. 
As to the effects of the Chair, you have no reason to regret them ; I wish I 
were to be as agreeably placed this day. I beg my best wishes to Lady 
Saltoun, in which all this family beg leave to join, and have the honor to be 

" Yours, etc., 
Endorsed in Lord Saltoun's hand : " J. Gordon." 

"Dutchess of Gordon, Nov. 1791." 

In the early part of the year Lord Saltoun had contributed a letter to 
the " Morning Chronicle," on the subject of the Corn Bill, which was thus 
acknowledged by the editor, Mr. Perry : — 


" My Lord, — I had the honor of your Lordship's letter, and beg that you 
accept my best thanks for the communication you were so good as to make 

" Your Lordship will see that I lost no time in presenting your valuable 
thoughts on the Corn Bill, which I observe has excited very serious alarm in 
every part of Scotland. I am so much disposed to give my feeble aid to 
every measure intended for the good of that country, that no apology is 
necessary for the length of any letter, and you may be assured that every 
thing which I have the honour to receive from your Lordship shall be held 
in the most sacred confidence. 

" I have the honor to be, with respect, 

" My Lord, your Lordship's most obliged and obed' servant, 

" Ja. Peeey. 

" Great Shire Street, 12th Feby." 
Endorsed in Lord Saltoun's hand : 

"Mr. Perry, Editor Morng. Chronicle, 12th Feby. 1791." 

During this and the following year, Lord Saltoun had some correspon- 
dence with David, sixth Earl of Buchan, the friend of Burns, and a great 
patron of literature, whose Countess, Margaret Fraser, was his cousin, being 
the daughter of William Fraser of Fraserfield. Three letters from the Earl 
are so characteristic that they seem worthy of a place here : — 

"Dry burgh Abbey, Sept r 16 th , 1791. 

" My deae Loed, — The strange situation of Europe, and the wretched 
state of Britain with respect to political sentiment, has made me avoid 
writing to my old friends, who think as I do, till my indignation should 

" That miserable madman Burke will I hope do good as Filmer did, but I 
am sorry to think no very essential good can be done in consequence of the 
people having their eyes opened, without operations of a very different 
nature from those in France, where fortunately having no house to inhabit, 
they had the choice of their plan and situation. 

" I am busy promoting the introduction of an improved breed of sheep to 
our hill-land here, instead of the coarse- woolled black snouts, and with a 


Spanish Earn, and picked Herefordshire Ewes, I expect next year to have 
Lambs to begin a new race. I have been likewise amusing myself with 
literary pursuits, and have put lately into a bookseller's hands a Life of 
Andrew Fletcher of Salton, to be prefixed to an Edition of his works that 
remains unsold ! 

" This Life is of no great extent, as I do not enter into any account of his 
writings, which sufficiently speak for themselves. I have likewise bestowed 
a leisure hour now and then on writing some light pieces for Dr. Anderson's 
Bee, which promises of late to be an useful miscellany. But my great 
employment has been the furthering the new road to Glasgow thro' my West 
Lothian property, and the Tweed Navigation, the estimate for which amount- 
ing only to £14,000, we have now on our Table. 

" It will give me great pleasure to hear that your political fervor is no 
wise abated, and that, notwithstanding, you turn yourself to agriculture and 
political economy in your own country and district. 

" I have always entertained the sincerest friendship for you, mixt with 
the best opinion of your integrity and merit, and will rejoice in every 
circumstance that shall tend to make you more and more usefull, and 
consequently more and more situated to your own satisfaction. Lady 
Buchan joins in kind wishes and respects to your Lordship, to Lady 
Saltoun, and your whole family, and I remain with continued regard and 

" My dear Lord, 

" Y r LoP s most faithful and obed* serv*, 

" Buchan. 

" Major-General Stuart, M.P., Edin r , will forward letters to the Abbey, 
when you give me the pleasure of y r correspondence." 
Endorsed in Lord Saltoun's hand : 

" Sent the Albanian Duan, Pictish houses in Buchan, etc." 

" Dry burgh Abbey, October 31 st , 1791. 
" My deae Lord, — Sincerely congratulating you on the safe and happy 
time of Lady Saltoun, and the birth of another son, I must at the same time 
felicitate you on the respectable and useful employment of your time, by 


which you overleap the ordinary bounds of nobility, and render yourself 
interesting to society. 

" I am glad the Scotch Lords' eldest sons have regained their Citizenship, 
but I shall be better pleased to see this same Citizenship extended to every 
man who possesses soil, whether as a free, copy, or lease holder, without 
which we may talk of a Constitution as we please, but we shall be no better 
than Goths. 

" Your remarks on the Duan I have sent to Pinkerton, who is now busy 
with his history of Scotland from the period where he left off, to the accession 
of James VI. to the Crowns of England and Ireland. 

"He prepares likewise, to be published this winter, the residue of primaeval 
Scottish poems, ending, I think, with the Ballantyne Excerpts, which I 
caused to be transcribed for him in the Advocates' Library. Next comes 
Wintoun's Chronicle, hitherto inedited, and with this he closes his labours 
as an Editor. He is a very extraordinary man, but a valetudinarian, and not 
blessed with the best temper in the world, as I have sometimes experienced. 

" You may depend upon my friendship to you and yours, if ever I can 
get upon high enough ground to look at your interests and theirs with any 
sort of advantage ; but at present I fear there must be rough work before 
anything can be done to saddle the people with whom I am most imme- 
diately connected in principle. Some people think it might have been as 
well for Britain if Charles II. had lived and gained his point, so that we 
might have had clear foundations to build upon ; and I am not much dis- 
posed to deny the proposition, or at least to enter into the controversy ; by 
and bye we shall see what is to be the upshot. 

" I approve highly of your idea about the Scottish Latin writers, but I 
fear 250 people would hardly be found to espouse the undertaking. Lady 
Buchan joins in affectionate services to Lady Saltoun and your household, and 
I allways am, with sincere regard, 

" Yr. Lops, faithfull humble serv*, 

" Buchan." 

The third letter is more than a year later. 

" My dear Lord, — I have mentioned Findlater to Anderson for Daviott. 


" I see a Findlater his correspondent on agriculture in the Bee ; perhaps 
he is already connected with him thro' his cousin. I think Anderson an 
honest industrious man, and have thrown him crumbs for the Bee, yet I can 
hardly pretend to move him otherwise than on the merits, which I 'm glad 
to see, by your respectable opinion, is a relevant argument. 

" I rejoice to find you still attached to the res domi, the best way to 
prevent them from becoming angustse. 

" Party men and party politics are now rang in, all Europe over, except 
in Britain and Spain, and there the days will be but few and evil during 
which they will prevail. 

" The empire of delusion is at an end ! 

" I'm sorry for the g* grandson of the Earl of Portland, but old Bentinck 
was but a page of the Prince of Orange, and his descendant will make nothing 
by his sing-song about old glorious. 

" Fox himself sinks with the people on his Westminster Bore, and nothing 
will go down now but real common sense to the utter discomfiture of modern 
Patriotism. I hear our foolish people have gone so deep with Calonne, as 
agent for Vienna and the Malcontents, that we run a risque of breaking with 
Prussia, notwithstanding the dear Lady with the little shoe ! 
" ' Fortunatus idle deos qui novit agrestes,' 
for I am apt to believe, before another year goes about, there will be trouble 
to agitators. 

" Lady Buchan and Miss Fraser join in kind respects to Lady Saltoun, 
and I am, my dear Lord, 

" With great esteem, y r Lop s affect e h. serv*. 

" Buchan." 

" P.8. — I had a visit from John Miller and his wife this summer, and 
found him, in politics ' Sequens fratrem passibus sequis.' 
"Dryburgh Abbey, Nov r 4 th , 1792." 

In the June of the same year Lord Saltoun received from the eminent Dr. 
John Skinner, Bishop of Aberdeen, an account of the passing of the Act for 
the relief of Scottish Episcopalians, and the excellent prelate thanked him 
warmly for the assistance he had rendered in obtaining the measure, and the 


letters to the Duke of Portland, Lords Kellie, Lauderdale, Selkirk, and 
Stormont, and to Sir Thomas Dundas, with which he had furnished him. 

About the same time occurs a letter from Sir William Forbes, Bart., of 
Craigievar, in which is the following curious passage : — -" I approve highly of 
the printed Principles of the Friends of the People, and believe they will 
sooner or later prevail, and I think the conduct of those in power is such as 
will bring matters to a crisis in a very short time. 

" A mighty fine proclamation ! Should a diligent magistrate see this 
letter, I may have an answer from the Secretary of State." 

And another from Mr. Wilbraham Bootle, afterwards first Lord Skelmers- 
dale, shows that Lord Saltoun practised the duties of hospitality at home, and 
had friends in all parts of the country : — 

" My Lord, — The great civilities which I received from your Lordship 
when in Scotland have encouraged me to take the liberty of recommending 
my brother, Mr. Wilbraham (who has already the honor of being acquainted 
with Lady Saltoun), and Mr. Augustus Legge, son of Lord Dartmouth, to 
your notice, as they propose making nearly the same tour in the North that 
I did. I shall feel extremely obliged to your Lordship if you would show 
them the kindness which you did to me, in putting them in the way of seeing 
whatever is most worthy of observation in your part of the country. 

" I have only to regret that my absence from Great Britain will prevent me 
from having the pleasure of assuring you in person this summer how much I 

" Your Lordship's most obliged and obedient humble serv\ 

" Edw d . Wilbraham Bootle. 
"Copenhagen, June 17 th , 1792." 

In the flower of his age, possessed of more than average abilities, which 
the activity of his disposition kept in constant exercise, deservedly esteemed 
by, and popular with, a large circle of friends of all shades of political opinion, 
blessed with an amiable and devoted wife, and a family of promising children. 
Lord Saltoun might have looked forward to a long and happy life, and to the 
attainment of any position within the scope of honourable ambition, but 
Providence had otherwise decreed. 


During the summer of 1793 he aud Lady Saltoun, with their children, 
paid a visit to her parents, then residing at Baldwins, in Kent ; and there, 
in the early part of September, gout, from which he had been for some time 
suffering, attacked his stomach, and sinking under the disease, he died on the 
1 3th of that month, not long after the completion of his thirty-sixth year. 

The following extracts from two letters written by Mr. Fraser and Lady 
Saltoun to his aunt, the Honourable Miss Fraser, give some account of his 
last moments, and evince how much they felt their loss : — 

"London, September 13th, 1793. 
" Dear Madam, — You may believe it distresses me in the extreme to 
inform you of the distracted state of my family, from the death of our much 
lamented friend your nephew, and the best of men, Lord Saltoun. 

" Having the gout flying about him for some weeks past, it at last fixed 
in his stomach, and carried him off at seven this morning, regretted by all 
who knew him. 

" It is impossible to acquaint you of my daughter's distress at losing the 
best of husbands. All I shall say is, May the Almighty support us all under 
such trials." 

Lady Saltoun some time afterwards, and in reply to a letter from Miss 
Fraser, wrote : — 

" I can form some idea how you feel, for he was attentive to you, and it 
was easily seen how much you loved him ; and he deserved to be beloved, 
for he did good to all who had any concern with him. My loss is not to be 
said. His death was not violent ; the same placid temper attended him to 
the last. He did not think himself in danger till within six hours ; I 
thought it on Thursday forenoon,, but Dr. Latham did not till towards even- 
ing. He never gave a single groan. He told me to take some rest on 
Thursday night at ten o'clock, and I went out of the room. He sent for me 
soon after twelve, and told me he was going. He then swallowed very well, 
and took all I offered him. My mother sent to speak to me, and he said, 
' May, don't stay long away.' I did not go ; and he said while he could, 
' Farewell, May,' and expired a few minutes after seven on Friday morning. 
So little was danger expected, that my father went to town on Thursday after 

2 F 


dinner. He was to bring Farquhar out as soon as he could find him, but as 
a satisfactory step, rather than one of absolute necessity ; but the Almighty 
Father thought proper to bring things to a very speedy conclusion, and I have 
now only to pray to Him to assist me in the recovery of my lost happiness." 

Lord Saltoun's remains were conveyed to Philorth, and interred in the 
family tomb at Fraserburgh. 

He left three sons and two daughters — 

Alexander George, his successor. 

Simon, born 31st July 1787, died unmarried, 10th February 1811. 

William, bom 12th October 1791. 

Margaret, born 29th August 1789, died unmarried, 14th August 1845. 

Eleanora, born 13th June 1793, married, 5th December 1825, William 
Macdowall Grant, Esq. of Arndilly, county Banff, and died 26 th September 
1852, leaving issue two daughters. 




By the early and unexpected death of the fifteenth Lord, on the 1 3th of 
September 1793, his eldest son, Alexander George Fraser, who was born on 
the 22d of April 1785, succeeded when between eight and nine years of age ; 
and though he was thus deprived of the natural guardian and protector of his 
early years, the loss was efficiently repaired by the ability of his mother, for 
whom he ever retained the fondest affection, and who was ably assisted in the 
care of her young family by the advice and support of her father, Mr. Fraser, 
until his decease in 1810. 

Indeed, Lady Saltoun was one in a thousand. Of short and slight, but 
graceful figure, the energy and intelligence of her countenance, the good 
sense and firmness that guided her actions, together with her goodness of 
heart and amiable disposition, reflected in her kind and courteous manner, 
received, without appearing to claim, the respect of all, and the warm affec- 
tion of those more intimately acquainted with her. 



BORN 1785. DIED ISS3. 


She preserved her health, her intellect, and her capacity for the business 
or enjoyment of life unimpaired, except some failure in memory during 
the last three years, until her death at the great age of ninety-seven. She 
had been out in the carriage the day before her decease, and had passed the 
evening as usual ; next morning, feeling rather weak, she did not rise for 
breakfast according to her custom, and about one o'clock she ate a cup of 
arrowroot, and handing the cup back, said, " Thank you, that is very nice," 
sank back on the pdlow, and died in less than a minute, without a struggle 
or a groan. 1 

Such a mother would not only take care that her son received an educa- 
tion fitting him for the position he was destined to occupy, but would, in his 
infancy, inculcate those sentiments of honour and feelings of duty that 
distinguished his after career. 

At the proper age he was sent to Eton, where, being endowed with great 
strength and activity, he became noted among his schoolfellows for deeds of 

The late Sir Eichard Simeon, Bart., told the writer of these pages that 
Lord Saltoun was the first Etonian that jumped into the Thames from the 
parapet of the centre arch of Windsor Bridge, Sir Eichard himself imme- 
diately following him on that occasion ; and the late Colonel Challoner, who 
was also his contemporary, though two or three years junior, said that he 
remembered, upon first going to Eton, that the whole school was ringing with 
a fight that had just taken place between Lord Saltoun and a champion of 
the bargemen, or bargees as they were termed, in which the former was 

In another encounter with the bargees he had a very narrow escape, for, 
tripped up by the prostrate body of a schoolfellow, whom a stone had brought 
to the ground, he fell on his back, while fighting in retreat, when one of the 

1 The evening before the funeral of Mar- I have seen since her death, that my mother 

gery, Lady Saltoun, the writer of this memoir was at least five years older than that." To 

accompanied Lord Saltoun to look at the the suggestion that the inserii/tiou might be 

coffin containing her remains. "Upon the altered, as there was time for that to be 

plate the age of the deceased was inscribed as done, he replied, " No ! it does not matter, 

ninety -two. Lord Saltoun said, "Ninety-two! ninety-two is old enough ! " 
but I have reason to know, from some papers 


bargees stabbed at him with a pitchfork, and the crowd passed over him ; 
however, on a rally being made, and the enemy driven back, he was found 
stunned by the fall and the blow, but happily otherwise uninjured, the two 
prongs having passed, one on each side of his neck, deep into the ground, in 
which the pitchfork remained standing, his assailant having been forced to 
let it go by the rush of the crowd. 

These rough schoolboy encounters formed no bad prelude to the more 
important events in which he had to bear his part, where the qualities of 
courage, self-reliance, and common sense were of more avail than mere book 
learning, a fact too much ignored in the present days of competitive examina- 

In 1802, when about seventeen years old, Lord Saltoun entered the army, 
receiving his commission of ensign in the 35th regiment, from which he was 
put on half-pay, and then obtained a lieutenancy in the 42d Highlanders, 
remaining in that regiment until he attained the rank of captain in 1804, 
when, on the 23d of November in that year, he exchanged into the First 
Eegiment of Guards, and was posted to the first battalion, but in January 1805 
transferred to the third, in which he went abroad on active service in 1806, 
it forming, with the first battalion, a portion of the reinforcements sent to 
the island of Sicily. 

The brigade of Guards embarked at Eamsgate about the 26th of July, and 
after a detention of nearly eight weeks in the Downs, proceeded to Plymouth, 
where it was landed, and encamped on Bickleigh Down for about a fortnight, 
until the whole of the troops having been got together, all embarked on the 
13th, and sailed on the 24th September for their destination. 

The passage was tedious, and the Guards did not arrive at Messina until 
the 2d of December, when they were ordered to proceed to Catania, and 
disembark there. Lord Saltoun's impression of the island is graphically 
told in a letter which, though written at a later date, might ecpially well 
have been penned at the time, and it may be given in his own words : 1 — 

" The whole of the island of Sicily is mountainous, with the exception of a 
plain at the base of Etna, to the south, called the plain of Catania, which 
extends from that town to Augusta and Syracuse, a distance of about 25 miles, 
1 Letter to Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Ellis. 


of which the 1 2 miles nearest Syracuse is rocky and hilly, tmt not mountain. 
From Catania on the north-east to Messina is about 60 miles ; all lava near 
the town for about 1 miles, and the rest of the way all mountains. Catania 
is at the base of Etna, which rises at once from it on the north side of the 
town. The said town of Catania, which was our headquarters, is surrounded 
with lava, the stream on the south side being about 2 miles wide, and the 
one on the north-east, as I said before, about 1 miles. The superstition that 
prevails there is that when the great eruption took place, Santa Agatha 
came and spread her veil before the stream of lava, which divided into two, 
and the town was saved ; she is therefore the great lady here, and on her day 
they have a grand Festa, and the priests pass a veil of some prepared stuff 
through the fire, and as it does not burn, the natives are convinced it is the 
identical veil that turned the lava ; and a very abrupt and well pronounced 
hill, that lies to the north of the town, and did actually turn the lava in the 
two directions, gets no credit at all. . . . We reached Sicily about the middle 
of December 1806, having coasted along the whole island, from the little 
island of Marstino to the town of Messina at the head of the strait of that 
name, having sailed along a most beautiful mountainous country, in many 
places, particularly near Messina, studded with villas, having Etna in view 
the whole time ; and one of the finest sights was to see the sun strike 
the top of Etna on rising, which it did about five minutes before you saw it, 
and lit the mountains down by degrees till you were aware that the sun was 
up, also the snow on the top, when first struck by the sun, looking like an 
immense ball of fire. 

"We were not permitted to land at Messina, but sent at once to our 
respective quarters, which were as follow : — The Flank Battalion to Syra- 
cuse ; the right wing 3 rd Battalion Augusta ; the 1 st Battalion and the left 
wing of the 3 rd at Catania ; and the left wing of the 3 rd was afterwards sent 
to Contessa, a small village near Messina. ... So the Guards occupied the 
whole coast from Messina to Syracuse, a distance of about 100 miles." 

Although there was no actual fighting during the eight or nine months 
that the battalion remained in Sicily, yet the enemy being on the other side 
of the strait of Messina, a strict watch had to be kept upon their movements, 
and all to be in readiness to repel any attempt to cross over into the island. 


An incident occurred at this time of which Lord Saltoun made a memor- 
andum, and which, to use his own words, shows " how little attention your 
English soldier pays to anything, unless long service and severe experience 
has driven something like observation into him." 

The memorandum is as follows : — " We had been some months at 
Oontessa, when the French, who since the battle of Maida had remained in 
upper Calabria, suddenly marched a large force down to the straits of 
Messina, commenced a sort of siege of the Castle of Scilla, where we had a 
garrison, and taking possession of Eegio, a town on the coast, nearly opposite 
our cantonments, began collecting boats and making preparations to invade 
Sicily. A party of an officer and 30 men was established at a place called 
Milia, about six miles from our cantonments, in order to give the alarm should 
any landing take place about there ; and we communicated by small posts 
of a corporal and three men at certain distances all along the line, to a parti- 
cular point from which it was about 3 miles to Milia, which post was visited 
every night by the captain on duty, and a patrol of a corporal and file of 
dragoons went from Messina to Milia twice during the night. 

" It had rained most of the evening, and I had started a little later than 
usual to go my rounds, and I had met the first patrol on its return from 
Milia, a little before I came to the great fiumara or watercourse, which ran 
from the mountains into the strait ; in summer this was in general dry, or at 
most very small, but in heavy rains often impassable, and on the Milia side 
of this fiumara was situated our extreme corporal's picquet on the right, our 
left one communicating with the Citadel of Messina. 

" When I crossed the fiumara it was running a strong stream, but nothing 
dangerous. I proceeded on to Milia and visited the post there, stayed a short 
time, and smoked a cigar with the officer. According to the time of the 
patrol, I ought to have met it between the fiumara and Milia, but I did not, 
and when I came to the fiumara I at once saw that it was utterly impassable ; 
it was raging with a force that would have carried away an elephant, and in 
the current of the burn, from the stones it covered at the sides, must have 
been more than ten feet deep. I made no doubt but that the patrol finding 
it in this state had returned. 

" This ford was about 200 yards above the junction of the fiumara with 


the sea, which is so deep, close to land all along that part of the straits of 
Messina, that a man-of-war could tack with its bowsprit over the land. 

" As I had no inclination to stay there in the rain I coasted the torrent 
down to its junction with the sea, and being an excellent swimmer myself, 
as well as in the constant habit at that time of swimming my horse, I at 
once put him into the deep water, and without any difficulty reached the other 
side, and proceeded on my rounds. I found that the patrol had visited all 
the posts on its way out as usual, and on reaching the cavalry post at 
Messina, as I was obliged to mention in my report the circumstance of my 
not having met the patrol, I inquired of the officer about it, and found that it 
had not returned. I mentioned my fears for it to the officer, but as it was 
possible that they had taken some shelter to wait till the fiumara should run 
off, a sergeant was sent to look for them and bring them back, but they were 
never heard of afterwards, and as desertion was impracticable, at least with 
their horses, and moreover a crime not at all prevailing in the English part 
of the army at that time, there can be no doubt but they were carried away 
in trying to ford the fiumara." 

Another memorandum gives an interesting account of the way in which 
Lord Saltoun and some of his brother officers at times relieved the tedium of 
the severe and harassing service in which they were engaged, without the 
excitement of actually meeting the enemy in the field, and affords some 
characteristic traits of the country people of that part of Sicily, and evidence 
of the corruption prevalent amongst the Sicilian officials : — 

" Amongst other things that occurred to me in Sicily, was forming an 
acquaintance with a set of people who lived principally in the mountains. 
Ostensibly the occupation of these people was that of shepherds, and carriers 
of ice from the mountains to Messina ; but in the country they generally went 
by the name of Ladrones, not that they ever committed robberies in the 
character of ice-sellers, but they certainly did at times commit pretty heavy 
depredations upon their own countrymen ; but during the time I was in that 
country, I never heard of any English officer being plundered, probably (for 
we had gone there as friends) from some such sort of feeling as prevaded 
through Spain, when there was hardly an instance of an Englishman being ill 
treated by the inhabitants. 


" The man who left ice at my quarters told me if I would go into the 
mountains I could get excellent shooting, and he would speak to the Capitano 
(a name which applied as well to the head shepherd as to the robber). 
Accordingly, a brother officer and myself proceeded up the mountains, and 
found everything prepared for us — good beds of dry fern, and a supper of kid 
and milk and fruit, etc. etc. In the morning we proceeded to shoot ; several 
men had been sent off to find where the birds were, by their calling, and then 
drive them into the ravines. We were stationed on the top of the banks, and 
the rest of the men beat up the ravines, and the sport was very good, consist- 
ing of partridge, hare, and a sort of pigeon. Before beating up any ravine 
the Capitano hailed the scout with, ' Juan ' (or whatever his name might be), 
' cantaro V and on being answered, ' Si cantaro aqui,' the ravine was beat up ; 
if not, we proceeded to another station. We stayed two clays, and I made an 
arrangement with the Captain to furnish a goat with milk every week, for a 
Mrs. Villiers, wife of a commissary who lived near where we were quartered, 
and found it almost impossible at that time of the year to get any milk for 
her children. We made several of these trips, taking care not to have more 
money with us than we meant to leave amongst them. On one of these 
occasions, as we were taking our luncheon " before going down, the Capitano 
told me that I should be back there that night, and on my saying it was 
impossible, he replied, ' si, si, voi mismo,' and told me that our troops were to 
surround the mountain on our side that night, and that a body were to do 
the same on the Milazo side, which body had already marched for that pur- 
pose, and we were to meet at the top for the purpose of making them 
prisoners, and that in consequence they were to shift their quarters imme- 
diately, but that the goat would be sent to the Signora Inglese just as usual, 
and we should find them there again, when an olive branch was left with the 

" We came down, told our story at mess, and were well laughed at for 
believing it ; but a little before dark, an order came to fall in, and under the 
direction of certain guides we marched up the mountain, and got to the top 
about daylight, found no Ladrones, but met our friends from Milazo, and 
after some cigars, etc. etc., returned home again. 

" I thought it my duty to report this to Sir John Moore, the Commander- 


in-chief; for as the surprise had been undertaken at the request of the 
Sicilian authorities, it was clear that the Ladrones had some better friends 
in that body than we had." 

In a letter of the 18th March 1807, addressed to his mother, Lord Saltoun 
gives an amusing account of a tour through a considerable part of the island, 
in which he mentions the ruins of the temple of Jupiter Olympus, near 
Girgenti, — the ancient Agrigentum, — as very magnificent. He says : — " The 
columns were of a gigantic size, and the fluting of them large enough to 
contain a man. From what remains, the enormous size of the pillars is clearly 
to be perceived; two capitals, which are the only remains of them, are 
broken into four pieces, and in the small part of the pillar, still attached to 
one of them, Montgomery, who is rather a thin man, could get into the flute 
with all ease. What an immense block of stone it must have been to allow 
such cutting away from it, and afterwards to support a capital of such size, 
one quarter of which only, lying on the ground, hid six of us behind it, so as 
not to be perceived by a person on the other side." 

He also relates a curious story or tradition respecting a peculiarity in 
the great church at Girgenti : — " There is also another singular circumstance, 
which is, that a person getting up above the altar, can hear anything said at 
the other end of the church, even in a whisper. This is said to have been 
discovered in the following manner : — A carpenter was up there one day 
mending the figure of a dragon, and saw his wife come into the church to 
confess. He was surprised at so plainly hearing the priest speak to her, and 
therefore listened, and heard the whole of her confession. On returning 
home he gave her wholesome correction for what he had overheard, and made 
a regular practice of mending the dragon whenever any rich person went to 
confess, by which means he got together a good deal of money." 

After remaining about ten months in the island, the brigade of Guards 
returned home, and in the above-mentioned letter, to an old brother officer, 
Lord Saltoun says: " We left Sicily in the autumn of 1807, forming part of a 
force of 10,000 men, with Sir John Moore. Our first instructions were to 
take Ceuta, but they thought it too strong. We were then (in the event 
of the King of Portugal submitting to the French) to have gone to the 
Brazils, and taken that ; but as the King of Portugal abandoned his 

2 G 


kingdom, and went to the Brazils himself, Sir John Moore Drought us to 

From his mother having resided at Dartmouth House, Blackheath, pro- 
bably in order to be near her father, Lord Saltoun's earlier years had been 
passed in England, and it is doubtful whether he had ever, since his succes- 
sion to the title, visited his paternal estates until the year 1808, when in the 
autumn he proceeded to Philorth and Fraserburgh, and made acquaintance 
with his feudal vassals and tenantry there, from whom his handsome and 
manly appearance, and his frank and engaging manner, coupled with straight- 
forward good sense, won golden opinions, and established amongst them an 
esteem and affection for him, which increased and deepened during his whole 
life. He also made a tour through the north of Scotland, visiting many of 
his friends and acquaintances, and everywhere winning the regard of high 
and low ; and of this evidence is found in letters written by his brother 
Simon to their mother, while visiting Philorth, and making a similar tour 
during the succeeding autumn of 1809. 

He wrote: — " Saltoim is adored round Fraserburgh; everyone talks of 
him and his affability, when he was down last year, incessantly. I do not 
think I should have written to-day were it not to have told you this, well 
knowing how grateful it will be to you to be informed how much Saltoun is 
looked up to by his tenants. Indeed, were I to tell all that they have said 
to me about him and yourself, it would raise you at least half-a-foot higher. 
I shall therefore only remark, that the manner in which the old tenants who 
could remember you spoke of you, brought tears of delight into my eyes, and 
they are all as anxious to see you as my brother." 

And in another letter : — " The gamekeeper at Kinrara spoke to me a good 
deal about Saltoun's keenness and abilities for a sportsman, and mentioned 
how liberally he had acted always to him, not only in making him a hand- 
some present, but also, which seemed to flatter him more, in allowing him to 
take his shot in fair play ; in short, Saltoun is a great favourite with every- 
body who has spoken to me about him. ... It will be pleasing to you to 
know that it is not confined to his own estate or tenants to respect and love 

The life of Simon Fraser, who thus wrote of his brother in terms of pride 

K.HaebiiTn., ]>mx- 


BORN 1787 - DIED S . P. 1811. 


aud affection, was unfortunately cut short, and his death, on the 10th Febru- 
ary 1811, prevented the fulfilment of the promise afforded by the talents and 
good qualities of which his youth had given evidence. 

In those stirring times a fortunate soldier was not long idle, and in 1808 
Lord Saltoun was again upon active service, the third battalion, to which he 
belonged, with the first, forming part of the army in Spain, under Sir John 
Moore, and of the division commanded by Sir David Baird, which, landing 
at Corunna in October, reached Astorga, in Leon, about the 24th of November, 
and effected a junction with the main army, under Sir John Moore, which 
had come from Lisbon, at Mayorga, on the 20th of December. 

The British army now numbered about 25,000 men, with sixty guns, and 
advanced against Soult in the valley of the Carrion. The brilliant combina- 
tions by which Napoleon rescued his marshal, concentrated 70,000 men and 
100 guns to oppose Moore, and forced him to an immediate retreat on 
Corunna, by the route which Baird had lately followed from that place, are 
matters of general history. 

During this retreat the Guards and Beserve in a great degree maintained 
discipline, and did not share in the disorganisation and misconduct that 
prevailed among a large portion of the army, which, according to the report 
of then general, had abandoned every military virtue except the redeeming 
one of courage and ardour for battle. 1 

After several weeks of severe hardship and privation, and many encounters 
with the pursuing enemy, the army under Sir John Moore reached the sea- 
port of Corunna, where the Guards had landed scarce three months before, 
and there turning to bay, fought and won the severe battle of that name, on 

1 Extract of despatch from Sir John Moore, with that of Wellington from Burgos in 1S12, 

13th January 1809 : — says, vol. v. p. 375 : — " The reserve and the 

"lam sorry to say that the army, whose foot guards in Moore's campaign, the light 

conduct I had much reason to extol on the division and the foot guards in Wellington's, 

march through Portugal, and on its arrival gave signal proof that it was negligence of 

in Spain, has totally changed its character discipline, not hardships, though the latter 

since it began to retreat. I can say nothing were severe in both armies, that caused the 

in its favour, except that when there was a losses. Not that I would be under-stood to 

prospect of fighting the enemy, the men were say that those regiments only preserved order 

then orderly, and seemed pleased, and deter- — it is certain that many others were emi- 

mined to do their duty." nently well conducted — but those were the 

Napier, comparing Sir John Moore's retreat troops named as exceptions at the time." 


the 16th of January 1809, repulsing with a force reduced to less than 15,000 
men the vastly superior numbers of the French led by Soult, and secured 
an undisturbed embarkation, though the victory was dearly purchased by the 
death of their gallant general, whose left shoulder was carried away by a 
cannon-ball, and who died that evening, and was buried the same night on 
the ramparts of Corunna. 

On the night of the 1 6th, and during the 1 7th, the British army embarked 
in the fleet that had appeared on the 1 5th, and set sail for England, where, 
in spite of a storm that dispersed the ships and wrecked some of them, the 
transports conveying the brigade of Guards arrived safely, and the two 
battalions landed at Portsmouth on the 25th, and marched to Chatham. 

About six months later Lord Saltoun was again on active service ; for in 
the summer of 1809 the Government of the day resolved to send a force to 
the coast of Holland, to capture the fortified city of Antwerp, where Napoleon 
had established large arsenals, and to destroy the shipping in the river 

This project, which is known as the Walcheren Expedition, might have 
led to important and glorious results, but from mismanagement unfortunately 
resulted in complete failure. 

A force of about 30,000 men, of which the first and third battalions of 
the First Guards, with detachments from the Coldstream and Scots Fusilier 
Guards, formed a part, embarked under the command of the Earl of Chatham, 
in numerous transports, and escorted by a very powerful fleet, under Admiral 
Sir Eichard Strachan, sailed on the 28th, 29th, and 30th of July. 

Sir John Hope's division, which included the brigade of Guards, formed 
the advance, and landing upon the north shore of the island of South Beve- 
land on the 1st and 2d of August, obtained considerable success during the 
ensuing week, advancing as far towards Antwerp as Fort Batz, which it 
captured ; and the other divisions of the army also operated successfully in 
the island of Walcheren, reducing the town of Flushing and other places of 

But the over-caution and consequent delay of the general and admiral 
commanding -in -chief lost precious moments. The French and Dutch 
strained every nerve to assemble a superior force for the protection of 


Antwerp. Sickness of a most fatal description broke out in the British ranks, 
and the opinion of the seven lieutenant-generals of the army having been 
taken towards the end of August, further progress was decided to be im- 

The bulk of the expedition therefore re-embarked before the 4th of Sep- 
tember, and returned to England, leaving a small force to hold the island of 
Walcheren, which, in its turn, decimated by disease, was before Christmas 
ordered to abandon that post and to return home. 

While serving in this unfortunate and — by the commanders-in-chief — 
ill-conducted campaign, Lord Saltoun did not escape the terrible Walcheren 
fever, caused by malaria, that proved fatal to so many, from the effects of 
which even his iron constitution suffered in no slight degree during future 
years. 1 

The dilatory proceedings of the military and naval commanders-in-chief 
of this unfortunate expedition were commemorated in the well-known 
epigram : — 

" The Earl of Chatham, with his sword drawn, 
Was waiting for Sir Eichard Strachan : 
Sir Eichard, longing to be at 'em, 
Was waiting for the Earl of Chatham \" 

In the spring of 1811 Lord Saltoun again went abroad on active service with 
the third battalion, which formed part of the garrison of Cadiz, and in a letter 
from Isla de Leon, written 2 2d September 1811, he related an instance of 
that jealousy and misconduct on the part of the Spanish authorities which 
so often impeded the operations of the English commanders throughout the 
whole war : — " You say I do not send you any politics, the fact is there is 
nothing going on here but the old story ; the Spaniards make no efforts them- 
selves and lay all their losses to the fault of the English government and 
generals. Mutual dissatisfaction had been brewing a long time, but did not 
openly break out till after the battle of Barrosa, in which, notwithstanding it 
was clearly proved that the English army saved the whole of the Spanish 

1 "In the whole army no less than 67 above 200 officers and 11,000 men were still in 
officers and 4000 men died of the fever, and hospital." — History of the Grenadier Guards, 
at the date of the report in February (1810), by Lieut. -Gen. Sir F. W. Hamilton, K.C.B. 


army and the Isla de Leon ; notwithstanding that two of their own generals, 
namely, Sayis and Ladizabal, were so convinced that we had gained a complete 
victory, that they repeatedly urged La Pefia to advance on Chiclana ; although 
General Graham offered to advance on Chiclana if they would support him, 
which they declined; yet the Spanish government countenanced a false 
account of the action, which was published by General Lacy, the head of their 
staff (a runaway rascal who had been turned out of the French service), in 
which he gives the whole merit of the action to the Spanish army, denies 
General Graham's statement, and attributes the failure of the general plan to 
the ill-judged attack (as he calls it) that the English made. This produced a 
correspondence between them, and General Graham obliged him to eat his 
words. Lacy had been put under arrest after the battle of Barrosa, but, soon 
after this statement made its appearance, was reinstated in his rank and com- 
mand ; this of course created an open rupture between our heads of depart- 
ments and the Spanish government, which is likely to continue, at least as 
long as tilings go on in their present style. The mass of the people and the 
army are with us, and if we were to offer them our pay we might revolutionise 
the place in three days ; but that is not our system. So much do the Spanish 
government fear this, that false accounts are circulated, in order that the 
people may not be acquainted with the extent of their obligations to the 
British, and to excite, if possible, a jealousy between the two nations. They 
yesterday ordered away four thousand men, against winch our Minister 
remonstrated very strongly. Some of the troops, however, marched yesterday 
evening. Whether they will embark or not I know not, but if they do, our 
force will not be sufficient to defend the place, as our works are now become 
very extensive ; but we must do the best we can, and I do not think the 
French will attack." 

Lord Saltoun remained with his battalion in Cadiz until August 1812, 
when just before the raising of the siege by the French, consequent on Lord 
Wellington's movements in the centre of Spain, it marched with the force 
under General Cruz Mourgeon and Colonel Skerrit to join Hill's division, 
which was operating to the southward of Lord Wellington's advance upon 

From a journal kept by him at this time it appears that they embarked 


at Cadiz on the 9th August, and reached Huelva at eleven P.M. on the 13th, and 
after resting two days, during which the remainder of the troops, stores, etc., 
were landed, the whole force proceeded on the 16th by Trigeras, Nuebla, 
Palma, and Villa Abba, to Manzanilla, where it arrived on the 19th, and in 
the vicinity of that place first fell in with the enemy, for after a halt of four 
days, the following memorandum appears in the journal : — 

" 2ith. — Marched with a detachment at eleven at night, and attacked the 
enemy's outposts at San Lucar le Major, and drove them in with little loss 
on their side, and none on ours ; distance four leagues. 

" 25th. — Fell back one league ; took post near a river in the rear of San 

" 26th. — Marched at five in the morning with the hussars to make a recon- 
noisance ; the troops joined us next morning. 

" 27th. — Marched with the whole of the force towards Seville, fell in with 
the enemy at his advanced posts at Castellega, one league from Seville, drove 
them in, and about seven in the morning advanced to the attack of that 
place ; distance of march four and a half leagues. The British column 
advanced for more than two miles at double-quick, and were just in time to 
drive the enemy from the bridge with the bayonet, as they were trying to 
cut it ; at ten we were in complete possession of the place. The French 
force was eight battalions infantry and two regiments of cavalry, commanded 
by Victor; ours consisted of 3500 Spaniards under Cruz Mourgeon, and 
1500 British, with three six-pounders, under Colonel Skerrit, and the place 
was only carried by the rapidity of the British advance, which terrified the 

The army remained in or near Seville until the 30th September, when, 
after leaving a garrison in that place, it renewed its long march, and by way 
of Truxillo, Talavera, and Toledo, effected its junction with Hill's corps at 
Aranjuez on the 26th October. 

"26th. — To the park at Aranjuez, four leagues, there had been an alarm 
during the night, and General Hill had ordered the bridge to be destroyed. 
Bivouacked. The park very fine ; a number of trees planted in avenues, but 

" 27th. — Halt; the enemy made his appearance in front of Aranjuez. 


" 28th. — The enemy occupied the town and gardens of the palace, on the 
opposite side of the Tagus. 

" 29th. — Eetired at one in the morning over the Jarama river, and took 
post on the Madrid road, in rear of the Puente Larga, which we were pre- 
paring to destroy. In the evening marched to Cien Pozuelos, one league. 

" 30th. — The enemy attacked Puente Larga, the mine of which failed, and 
were repulsed with loss by the 47th regiment. 

" Joined headquarters as orderly officer." 

Wellington's retreat from Burgos obliged Hill also to retire, and while 
with the headquarters Lord Saltoun accompanied them to Aravaca, the 
Escurial, Espinar, Lavajos, and Villa Nueva de Gomez, where on the 5th 
November he rejoined his battalion, which retired to Fonte-viros. 

The retreat continued, and on the 9 th the battalion reached Salamanca. 

" 9th. — Marched in the afternoon to Salamanca, and were quartered in a 
convent. The first time we had been under cover, except at Cien Pozuelos, 
since we left Afiover on the 26th October. Distance marched from Huelva 
636 miles. Joined Lord Wellington's army, which had retired here from 

With Lord Wellington's army the battalion retreated through Ciudad 
Eodrigo, Gallegos, and past Fuentes d'Honore, until the 8th of December, 
when the troops went into cantonments, and the Guards were quartered in 
Viseu, Mondeo, and Spraida. "Had at this place marched from Huelva 800 
miles, computing the Spanish league at four English miles." 

The British army, after its retreat from Burgos, remained in cantonments 
during- the winter, and about this time Lord Saltoun was elected one of the 
Eepresentative Peers of Scotland. 

In a letter to his mother of the 26th December, he wrote that it must 
depend upon whether operations are begun early in the following year or not 
as to whether he can return to take his seat in the House of Lords. 

On the Sth of February he mentioned the severe sickness which had 
attacked the troops, especially the brigade of Guards ; and in the same letter, 
alluding to the censure passed by Lord Wellington upon the conduct of the 
army during the retreat, he made the following sensible observations : — 

" I am very sorry, but not surprised, at a certain letter having crossed 


the Atlantic ; it should never have gone beyond the orderly books of the 
army, . . . and it is foolish for a General to abuse his army for disorders arising 
from the want of a proper commissariat, which Frederic the Great says it is 
his first duty to provide. It is no excuse for him that there is no wood in a 
country, but it is a very great one for a soldier pulling down a house to cook 
his provisions with the materials ; and in everything, when one disorder is 
permitted, another will soon creep in upon the heels of it. I do not mean to 
say that the army was not in a very bad state, but every man knows, who 
has ever seen an army, that such must be the case, if that army be ill 
supplied with bread ; and the saddle should always be put on the right horse. 
To say nothing of the hardships of the first part of the retreat, which were 
tolerably severe, the commissary might, and ought to have been at San 
Munos with a supply of bread for the army; we should then have had ample 
means of carrying the wounded and those men who were unable to march 
from fatigue, and their number would also have been very much lessened by 
the seasonable arrival of the bread, which would have enabled many to go 
through the very severe march we had from that place, for an extra half 
pound of over-driven beef is a very poor substitute for a pound and a half of 
bread, especially when that is issued for three days running." 

These remarks evince that he, in common with many other good officers, 
resented Lord "Wellington's censure, from the feeling that it was unjust to 
blame the soldiers for the disorder caused by the failure of the commissariat, 
which feeling, however, in no degree impaired the alacrity and devotion with 
which they served under their great commander. 

Soon afterwards Lord Saltoun obtained leave of absence, and returned to 
England, where, however, he remained only a few weeks, and sailed about 
the 11th of April from Falmouth to rejoin the army in Spain ; but this visit 
was productive of an important event in his life, as he then made the 
acquaintance of his future wife, Catherine, daughter of the Lord Chancellor 

He arrived at Lisbon, from Falmouth, about the 20th April, and on the 
2d May started, by way of Mafra and Cintra, for Oporto, to which place the 
brigade of Guards had moved during his absence. 

The general orders for the march of the corps d'armee under Sir Thomas 

2 H 


Graham, which was to advance on a line to the northward of that pursued by 
the force under the immediate command of Lord Wellington, were issued 
about the middle of May ; but owing to the terrible loss sustained by the 
Guards from sickness, it was decided to leave their first brigade at Oporto for 
some time longer. 

On the 1 4th May Lord Saltoun wrote : " Lord Wellington has, however, 
determined not to move us for the present, and they say it will be a month 
before we begin our march. We are certainly much better, and the men begin 
to look something like soldiers again, but it is shocking to think that since 
the month of December last we have buried 800 out of 2000." 

After a delay of six weeks the welcome order came for the first brigade of 
Guards to join the main army, which after the glorious battle of Vittoria had 
advanced to the Pyrenees, and on the 29th of June the brigade left Oporto, 
and passing up the right bank of the Douro to Toro, from thence through 
Palencia and Durada, came up to the front on the 18th of August, and were 
encamped near Iran, to cover the siege of St, Sebastian, which was carried on 
by the fifth division. 

In a letter of the 2d September Lord Saltoun gave the following account 
of the fall of that place, and other operations : — 

"The place was carried by storm at 12 in the day, on the 31st. Our loss 
was very great ; they rate it, as well as it can now be got at, to be about 
1500 men. The place was stormed by detachments from different divisions 
of the army, and by the fifth division, under the command of Sir J. Leith, 
who is wounded. We sent a detachment of one lt.-colonel, two captains, 
four subalterns, and 200 men, fifty of whom have returned. Of the officers, 
Burrard was mortally wounded, and died yesterday ; he is son to Sir H. 
Burrard, the second he has lost in action in the regiment. Ensign Bridgeman 
slightly wounded, and Chaplin, who belongs to the Coldstream Guards, 
severely ; he is shot in the breast, and his thigh broken so high that they 
cannot amputate. 

" On the morning of the storm Soult made a general attack on our line, 
with an intention to relieve the place. The ground in our front is very strong, 
and defended by the Spaniards of the Gallician army under General Frere. 

" The French attacked an hour before daylight, and carried a small height, 


which they surprised. This enabled them to establish a bridge over the 
Bidassoa, and at eight in the morning they had passed over about 10,000 
men, and made a regular attempt to carry the hill occupied by the Spaniards, 
without which they could not with safety pass any great force of artillery. 
The Spaniards defended it with great obstinacy, and about two, when the 
French had carried the hill, made a very splendid charge, and with the 
bayonet drove them fairly to the bottom again. 

" Towards evening the French made another attempt, but a very feeble 
one, and on the Spaniards giving three cheers on being informed of the fall 
of St. Sebastian, they retired, and during the night took away the bridge, 
and have not since troubled us. I have just come from the field, and from 
the number of dead lying there I should think the loss on both sides must 
be about 5000 men, of which number the Spaniards certainly lost the most. 
The French made an attack more on the right, and were met by the seventh 
division British, and repulsed with great loss. The castle of St. Sebastian 
still holds out, and will cost some more men ; we are at present pounding 
away at it at a great rate." 

On the 27 th September, having obtained a few days' leave, Lord Saltoun 
paid a visit to Sir Rowland Hill, then in command upon the right of the 
line, near Eoncesvalles, and in this trip visited the scenes of the recent 
actions in the Pyrenees, which he characterises as " the finest ever yet fought 
by the British ;" but returned to his battalion in time to take part in the 
passage of the Bidassoa, which he thus described in a letter of the 9th 
October : — 

" On the night of the 6th we got our orders at twelve to attack the next 
morning, and at three on the morning of the 7th marched to our points to 
reach them before daylight, so that the enemy might not observe our move- 
ments, and at a quarter before eight, it being then low-water, forded the 
Bidassoa in five columns, and advanced against their positions. The enemy 
made but little resistance, being partly surprised, and our plan of attack was 
so well combined, that his position was turned, and attacked hill after hill, 
nearly at the same moment. He ought, however, to have defended his 
position, which is a very strong one, with greater obstinacy. Our loss was 
small, — between 300 and 400 men I should guess. At twelve we had gained 


our present position, just above the town of Urogne, which is now the French 
advance, and before dark were quietly encamped upon it. During the time 
that this operation was going on the light division debouched by the pass of 
Wora, and attacked the hill of Urogne, which is a high mountain on the 
right of oar present line, and carried it in good form." 

On the 30th of October he wrote from the camp above Urogne : — 

" We have a great deal of duty ; our light infantry do the advanced duty 
and no other. I am on every fourth day ; and the posts are so close, our 
advanced sentries at night standing within thirty yards of each other, that 
both parties are tolerably alert ; indeed the Germans, who take that duty 
with us, and who have been all their lives on that species of service, say 
they never saw posts so close, without a ravine or brook, or something of the 
kind, between them, which is not the case here." 

The continuance of wet weather prevented any general advance for 
some weeks, but at length Lord Wellington was able to make a forward 
movement; and after the action at the passage of the Mvelles river, the 
Guards were engaged in the three days' fighting, from the 9th to the 12th 
December, in front of Bayonne, of which Lord Saltoun wrote the following 
account in a letter of the 13th from the camp near Bidart : — 

" We are again under canvas, and have had some sharp work for three or 
four days ; we have had two officers killed and wounded. Colonel Martin 
and Captain Thompson are killed, and Captain Streatfield and Ensign Latour 
wounded, the latter severely. We have lost 150 men. 

" Old Soult has been manoeuvring, and trying to deceive Lord Wellington 
by showing a large force at different points of our line. On the 9th we 
advanced, and attacked in front of this place, and drove the enemy into his 
strong ground in front of Bayonne. In the meantime Sir E. Hill crossed the 
Mve at Ustaritz, and rested his right flank on the Adour, so as to interrupt 
Soult's supplies, which he received from Pau and Oleron by that river. This 
obliged Soult to make some decided movement, and on the 10th he attacked 
us, but was repulsed by the fifth division. On the 11th he again attacked 
us, and got a hill in our front that covered his movements. That night we 
took the outpost duty, and on the 1 2th he appeared in force, and manoeuvred 
under a very sharp affair of tirailleurs, but finding us well prepared at all 


points he recrossed the Nive during the night, and on the 1 3th made three 
desperate attacks on Sir R. Hill, and was defeated and driven into Bayonne 
with great loss." 

On the 10th January 1814 he again wrote from St. Jean de Luz : — 

" Since I wrote last nothing has taken place with us in the fighting line, 
but for all that we have not been perfectly quiet. It pleased Soult to cross 
the Adour in force on the 3d, above the right of our army, and, accordingly, 
on the 4th we were all put in motion, and both armies continued manoeuvring 
until the 8th, when Soult retired across the river, and resumed his old position, 
and to-day we have followed his example and taken up our old cantonments. 
At one time on the 7th he had very nearly put his foot in it, and Lord 
Wellington would have attacked him on the 8th, but he found it out in time, 
and was off during the night. We have fortunately not had a great deal of 
rain, but it is very cold lying out at this time of year." 

Lord Saltoun had obtained his promotion to the rank of captain and 
lieutenant-colonel upon the 25th of December 1813, but he does not seem to 
have been aware of his having been gazetted for some weeks, as on the 6th 
of February he wrote as follows to Miss Thurlow : — 

" You, of course, before this time know of my promotion, and perhaps are 
among the number that expect me home ; but if so you will be disappointed, 
at least for the present, for I have accepted the command of the light com- 
panies, in which I have always served, and mean to remain with this army 
till the thing is decided, which must be the case, one way or the other, in a 
very few months. . . . This is not any sudden idea of mine, for I had settled 
in my own mind, when I left England, if I got my promotion not to go 
home. I never mentioned it to my mother or you, because although I knew 
it to be perfectly right in me to do so, I should have had some difficulty in 
persuading you of that. Now, however, that it is past altering, I think I could 
persuade you that it is correct for me not only to serve with a good grace 
when ordered, but, at the present time especially, to show that I am willing 
and ready to serve without being compelled to do so ; and I have accordingly 
made an offer of my services to the commanding officer of the brigade, who 
has been pleased to accept of the same, not but what I would give a good 
deal for one fortnight in London, though the fog were ever so thick." 


His promotion had caused him to be transferred to the second battalion, 
then at home, but in consequence of this offer, so creditable to him, the light 
companies of the first brigade of Guards were placed under his orders, a 
command which he retained to the end of the war. 

The first division, composed of the two brigades of Guards and one of 
Germans, together with the fifth division, marched on the 15th of February 
to the heights above Anglet, preparatory to forcing the passage of the river 
Adour, which they accomplished on the 23d and 24th. Sir John Hope, who 
was in command, at once proceeded to invest the Citadel of Bayonne, and the 
brigade of the First Guards, haviug driven the enemy out of the village of St. 
Etienne, formed the right of the besieging line, the Convent of St. Bernard, 
overlooking the Adour, being made into a strong post and occupied by Lord 
Saltoun and his light companies, as it protected the bridge of boats over the 
river. This part of the army was thus employed in the important service 
of blockading Bayonne, while Wellington, with his other forces, pursued his 
victorious career in the south of France. 

On the 1 4th of April the French garrison made a vigorous effort to destroy 
the lines of the besieging force, in which they were for a time successful, but 
were soon driven back again, though not without severe loss on both sides ; 
and in a letter of the 15th Lord Saltoun thus told of the encounter : — 

" Since I wrote last we have had a very sharp affair, and one that has 
fallen very severely on the Guards. The enemy made a most desperate sortie 
on the morning of the 14th, about 3 o'clock, and were not driven in without 
very great loss on our side. They got through the piquet line near the 
Bordeaux road, and the night was so dark that it was impossible to tell 
friends from foes. Sir John Hope very imprudently rode to the front during 
the dark, met with a party of the French, whom he mistook for Germans, and 
in endeavouring to get away, his horse was shot, and himself wounded in two 
places and taken prisoner. He was endeavouring to rally a piquet that had 
given way, which would have been a very proper place for a Lieut.-Colonel, 
but was a very improper one for a Commander-in-Chief. General Hay was 
killed, General Stopford wounded, poor Sir Henry Sulivan and Captain 
Crofton killed ; Captains White and Shifner dead of their wounds ; Colonel 
Collier, Captains Burroughs and Woburn very severely wounded, and in all 


about sixteen officers of the Guards and Colonel Townshend taken prisoner, 
and I believe wounded, but am not certain. What makes the loss the more 
provoking is that we had heard of the abdication of Bonaparte the day before 
the sortie took place. We expect that a suspension of hostilities will take 
place to-day or to-morrow, as we have sent in the confirmation of the news 
to the Governor of the place." 

This was the last action of the war in which the Guards were engaged, 
and peace being declared, Lord Saltoun proceeded to visit Thoulouse, from 
whence he returned to Bordeaux, and in writing to Miss Thurlow from there 
on the 2 2d May, said : — -"We have had a most delightful trip from Thoulouse 
to this place, by way of Montauban and Ajen, along the course of the 
Garonne, through the most beautiful country. We passed through the whole 
of Soult's army, which were cantoned on that side of the Garonne. The 
behaviour' of the troops, although perfectly respectful towards us as officers, 
clearly showed that they were not by any means well satisfied with the new 
order of things, and that they considered it as forced upon them." 

In the same letter he gives a sad reminiscence of the fatal sortie from 
Bayonne : — " I much fear our letters have not been sent as they ought to 
have been, which is a melancholy thing for the friends of our poor fellows 
who were wounded in the sortie, as no less than nine have died of their 
wounds, and their friends will hear of their death before they have the least 
idea of their danger." 

After attending a levee held by the Duke D'Angouleme, and a grand ball 
given in honour of that prince, Lord Saltoun resigned his temporary command 
of the light companies ; and proceeding to Tours, and thence to Paris, in a 
few weeks reached England, where he was welcomed by his family and 
friends, and ere long he made proposals in due form for the hand of the lady 
to whom he was attached, of which the acceptance is apparent from a letter 
of his in August of that year, commencing, " My dear Catherine," instead 
of the more formal, "My dear Miss Thurlow," with which his numerous 
letters had hitherto begun. 

In after years the writer of this memoir heard Lord Saltoun relate 
various adventures that had befallen him in his long and active military 
service, and some of these which must have occurred during the Peninsular 


campaigns may prove of interest, and may here be told in his own words, 
although the date and locality of each cannot he given, for the facts them- 
selves were impressed upon the memory of one who was a boy at the time 
when he heard them far more strongly than, what were then to him, minor 

There is, however, good reason to believe that it was in 1 8 1 2, in the long 
march from Cadiz to join Sir Eowland Hill at Aranjuez, or in the subsequent 
retreat, until winter quarters near Viseu, in Portugal, were reached, that the 
two following events occurred, one of which shows the good feeling that 
existed between the private soldiers and their officers, and the other affords 
a rather absurd illustration of the occasional accidents and hardships of a 
bivouac : — 

" We had been marching through difficult country, and on very bad roads, 
when, upon the halt for the night being ordered, we officers of the light 
company had the unwelcome intelligence conveyed to us that although the 
rations for the men had arrived all right, our mule, with all our supplies, had 
broken down some miles to the rear, and that we were in consequence 

" As we were veiy hungry this was far from agreeable, and we sat down 
under a tree in no very cheery humour ; but after a while were roused by 
the approach of the senior private of the company. He carried a mess tin 
in each hand, which prevented him from saluting ; but his words were very 
much to the point. ' Gentlemen, the men are very sorry to hear as how your 
mule has broke clown and you ain't got no supper, so, says we, let's each give 
a little bit of our own, and it 's in these here tins, and we hope you '11 take it, 
gentlemen.' Take it ! we were only too glad to get it, and capital it was ; 
but the circumstance showed what care soldiers will take of their officers if 
they like them, and I especially noticed that the oldest private was the 
spokesman, and that none of the non-commissioned officers were asked to 
interfere in what was an affair of kindly feeling, and not of duty." 

" When on a march, I generally carried a large and strong umbrella. It 
served for a walking-stick, and as I had coated it with oil varnish, it was 
waterproof, and many a wetting it saved me. 

" Upon one occasion, however, it took revenge for all its previous benefits. 


We had halted after dark in ploughed land, on the steep slope of a hill, and tired 
as we all were, it was impossible in the dark to attempt to better our position. 
The men settled themselves to rest as best they could. It was raining heavily, 
and blowing hard ; but, fortunately, the drift was down the slope of the hill, 
and I therefore sat down, with the umbrella over my shoulders, to pass the 
night. A brother officer sat down between my knees, and another took a 
similar position between his knees, all three more or less sheltered by the 
umbrella. After moodily chatting a while we dropped off to sleep, but how 
long we slept I cannot say, I only know that I was suddenly roused by the 
most unpleasant hip bath I ever got : the rain water descending the hill 
side had been dammed up in the furrow, above where we sat, by the edge of 
the umbrella resting on the ground ; some movement of mine, in my sleep, 
must have raised it, and the water rushed down upon us, drenching me and 
the one next to me up to the waist, but our friend below did not escape 
even so well ; in his sleep he lay down, and the rush of water took him 
in the nape of the neck, and went right through him from head to foot. 
Three such miserable wretches, as we were till morning broke, were never seen." 
The next adventure probably occurred towards the end of the war, when 
the outposts of the contending armies were very near each other, as described 
in Lord Saltoun's letter of the 30th October, from camp above Urogne : — 

" Upon one occasion, when I was in command of the outjtosts of our 
brigade, I was going my rounds with a small escort very early in the morn- 
ing. Our sentries and those of the enemy were at no great distance from one 
another, and I noticed that one of the French sentries, who was posted on a 
rising ground affording some view of the country beyond, appeared to be 
asleep. I determined to surprise him if possible, and obtain a look at what 
might be the scene of our own operations in a few days. 

" Taking one of the escort with me, and leaving the others to watch, he 
and I crept, as if deer-stalking, towards the sentry, and managed to reach 
him without awakening him. He reclined with his back to a tree, against 
which he had leant his musket, and of this I quickly made myself master ; 
then, while my companion kept guard over the still sleeping sentry, I 
examined the country beyond with my glass, and got a good deal of informa- 
tion as to its nature, the disposition of the enemy's troops, etc. etc. 

2 I 


" I intended at first to go back without wakening the Frenchman, and to 
take his musket with me ; but reflecting on the severe punishment, perhaps 
even death, that would await him if discovered by his own officers in that 
state, and without his arms, and noticing that he was a young soldier, I could 
not find it in my heart to do so, and we therefore awakened him. His surprise 
and horror may be more easily imagined than described, and if we had not 
held him down and stopped his mouth, he would have bolted shouting an 
alarm. When he became a little calmer, I said to him, ' My friend, it is far 
better for you that I have caught you asleep than that one of your own officers 
should have done so ; now, no one will know of it unless you tell, be more 
careful in future, and keep better watch ; I return you your musket, and 
shall trust to your honour not to fire at us as we retire.' However, not to 
depend too much on his honour, I took out the flint, and shook the powder 
out of the pan before giving it back to him. He seemed very grateful, and 
thanked me most warmly, and then we rejoined our party. A few nights after 
this I was again in command of the outposts, and wishing to visit another 
post at some distance, I set off on horseback alone. The night was pitch 
dark, and I lost my way, and got close to the cordon of French sentries, 
when my horse, crashing through a slight hedge, half scrambled, half fell into 
a hollow road ; and at the same instant came a challenge from the top of the 
opposite bank, ' Qui v'la?' and I heard the ring of a firelock brought to the 
ready. I sang out, ' Officier de la poste Anglaise,' and explained that I had 
lost my way in the dark. The French sentry asked if I was hurt by the fall ; 
and on my replying, ' No,' that I was all right, he most civilly directed me 
how to get within our lines again ; and as we parted said, ' I am happy to 
be of this service to you ; we have all heard of the kindness of one of your 
officers the other day to a young sentry of ours that he caught asleep.' I 
told him that I was the officer in question. ' Ah !' he said, ' that makes me 
doubly happy, that is the way brave enemies should always treat one 
another;' and so we parted excellent friends, and I found my way by the 
directions he had given me." 

Although the following anecdote does not relate to Lord Saltoun person- 
ally, yet as he used to tell it of his old brother officer and intimate friend, 
the late Lieutenant-colonel Charles Ellis, and as it shows great presence of 


mind and cool observation in a young officer under difficult circumstances, it 
is worthy of being placed on record. 

" You know Charley Ellis. He is not very big now, and when a young 
man he was still smaller ; but he is the pluckiest fellow I ever met, and I 
don't think he knows what fear means. 

" We were skirmishing in a thickly-wooded bit of country, and Charley 
had somehow got separated from his men, and lost his way for a time. 
Trying to rejoin them, he dived through an opening in the bushes, and found 
himself in a little clearing, just as a tall French soldier entered it through a 
similar opening on the opposite side, about twenty paces from him. Charley 
was staggered for an instant, but his eyes and wits were as keen as ever, and 
he noticed that the hammer of the Frenchman's musket was down, and the 
pan open. Eushing at him with his sword drawn, he cried in French, ' Down 
with your arms, and surrender ! My men are all round, in a moment you 11 
be cut to pieces!' The soldier, taken by surprise, threw down his musket. 
' Now, off with your cartouch-pouch,' cried Charley. The man obeyed ; and 
Charley, before his adversary had time to think, had loaded the weapon. 
' Now,' said he, ' I don't know where my men are any more than you do, 
but I know the way to find them, so you march on quietly before me, if 
you try to escape, I '11 blow your brains out.' When he appeared with the 
Frenchman, some six foot two or three in height, before him, the men all 
cheered him ; and when they heard how the capture had been made, they 
were still more pleased, for he was a general favourite with them, from his 
kindness to them, and from his invincible courage joined to so small a 

During the autumn of 1814, Lord Saltoun passed some time at his family 
seat of Philorth, from which he had been so long absent, and also visited 
some of his numerous friends in Scotland. 

On the 6th of March 1815 he was married to Miss Thurlow, and he and 
his bride proceeded to pass the honeymoon at Worthing House, which they 
had hired for the purpose, situated in the small watering-place of that name, 
a few miles west of Brighton, where they might hope to remain undisturbed 
for some time, as although Napoleon's escape from Elba, and his subsequent 
proceedings had roused Europe once more to arms, yet recent changes and 


promotions in the regiment had transferred Lord Saltoun back to the third 
battalion ; and as the first battalion was ordered on the 1st of April to pro- 
ceed abroad to join the second in Belgium, there appeared no chance of his 
being soon engaged in active service. But their anticipations of quiet life 
were rudely dispelled; certain circumstances caused the order of the 1st April 
to be countermanded on the 2d, the third battalion was sent abroad instead 
of the first, and a few weeks after his wedding, he was called upon to leave 
his bride, don harness, and take part in a struggle far fiercer, and for a time 
more doubtful, than any in which he had yet been engaged. 

The third battalion embarked at Bamsgate on the 9th of April, reached 
Ostend the next day, and marched, vid Bruges and Ghent, to Enghien, where 
it found the second battalion ; and the two, formed into the first brigade of 
Guards, were quartered in that town and the neighbouring villages of Marq, 
Hove, etc. Lord Saltoun joined on the 26th of April, and on the 15th of 
May he was again put in command of the light companies of the brigade, as 
he had been towards the close of the war in Spain, and was quartered at Hove. 

While at Hove he kept up a constant correspondence with his wife, but, 
as might be expected, the letters related chiefly to domestic details. In one, 
written 7th May, however, he mentioned a short trip that he had made to 
visit Antwerp, and the fortress of Bergen-op-Zoom ; and on the 18th of the 
same month he wrote : — " The Duke of Wellington has been for some daj^s 
back riding a good deal, and we used to say in Spain that whenever ' the 
Beau,' meaning the Duke, took to riding, it was time to look out. However, 
I believe this time he is only looking at his troops, which have been much 
increased lately by several battalions of Hanoverian Landwehr, who are 
tolerably good-looking men in general. . . . The spirit which the French 
call morale is very good in them, and they are pleased at acting with the 
British, whom they consider as countrymen. John Bull, however, does not 
admit them by any means to that honourable distinction, but calls them ' rid 
Jarmins,' from their being dressed in red." And again, on the 31st : — "I 
have just returned from a grand review by our royal commander, the Prince 
of Orange. Our performance was very good ; and. those spectators who were 
good judges have complimented us most highly, as well as the Prince, who 
was pleased to say that, although he had been many years with the British 


army, he never before had seen so perfect a body of men. This brings me to 
your having heard that the Duke was not satisfied with his infantry. He 
never had so good before, for the Hanoverians are much better than the 
Portuguese, and John Bull has not, I should think, altered much in a year. 
Never believe any humbugging stories of that sort until we are well beaten 
and afraid to meet our enemy, which, beaten or not beaten, will never be the 

In succeeding letters he gave accounts of reviews, balls, cricket matches, 
and other amusements by which the tedium of a life in somewhat dull 
quarters was relieved ; and in a letter of the 14th of June is the following pas- 
sage : — " Our grand cricket match did not take place, for the day turned out to 
be a very rainy one, so that it stands over till next Saturday, when the Duke of 
Richmond is to come over for the purpose." Before that Saturday morning 
dawned the cricketers were engaged in a far more desperate match, and 
were playing a game in which the balls used were of a different description. 

The story of the battles of Quatre Bras and Waterloo, and of the heroic 
defence of the Chateau and Orchard of Hougomont, the key of the British posi- 
tion in the latter action, has been so often told and retold, that nothing can 
be added to the general account of those eventful days. 

The share of the First Guards in those glorious achievements, which 
earned for the regiment the honourable title of " Grenadier Guards," in con- 
sequence of it having defeated the Grenadiers of Napoleon's famous Imperial 
Old Guard, is admirably related in the following extracts from the interest- 
ing and ably written history of that regiment by Lieutenant-General Sir 
F. W. Hamilton, K.C.B., in which the name of Lord Saltoun is mentioned in 
a way that shows how he bore himself in those well-fought fields, while 
passages from his letters to Lady Saltoun, after the victory had been won, 
and during the march on Paris, afford some details that are worthy of pre- 
servation : — 1 " On the morning of the 15th the Duke had given directions for 
the first Division to assemble at Ath, but when, at a late hour of that day, 
the news of the French advance reached Brussels, he issued an order, dated 
ten o'clock at night, directing, amongst other things, that the first Division 
should move from Enghien to Braine-le-Comte. This order reached Enghien 
1 History of the Grenadier Guards, vol. iii. p. 15. 


at half-past one in the morning of the 16th. The drams immediately beat 
to arms, and at two the Guards, having assembled at Hove, were ready to 
move off. At four o'clock they commenced their march, the First Brigade 
leading, preceded by its light companies under Lord Saltoun. Their route 
led them over the position of Steinkirk, rendered famous, 123 years earlier, 
by the gallant conduct of their predecessors in 1692, and they reached 
Braine-le-Comte at nine in the morning, having been joined on the march by 
the second Brigade under Byng. The first Division, after experiencing some 
delay in marching through this town owing to its crowded state, halted for 
a few hours on its eastern side, while General Cooke, commanding the 
Division, made a reconnaissance to the southward. On his return at mid- 
day he took upon himself the responsibility of continuing the march of the 
Division towards Mvelles, ten miles further, though the heat of the day was 
excessive, and the men were suffering from the weight of their packs. The 
Division of Guards were therefore again en route, and in due course arrived 
at three o'clock at a position within half a mile of Mvelles, where they 
expected to rest from their day's march, but they had not halted many 
minutes and piled arms, before an aide-de-camp brought an order to advance 
immediately. The Division was again under arms, and as it was supposed, 
from the firing having become very heavy and apparently very close, that 
the enemy was entering Nivelles on the other side, it moved off at the 
double down the hill to encounter them. After passing through the town 
unopposed, the march was continued to Hautain CarolL where the artillery 
was allowed to pass to the front, thence along the chaussee leading to Namur. 
During this part of the march many wounded were passed going to the rear, 
and a wounded officer of the 44th regiment that was met, urged the quick 
advance of the division, as things he said were going on badly for the 
Allies. As the march continued, more and more wounded were met on the 
road side, telling of the seriousness of the work going on in front ; at last, 
about five o'clock in the afternoon, the leading companies of the First Guards, 
viz., the Light Infantry under Lord Saltoun, arrived at a critical moment at 
the north-western extremity of a wood called the Bois de Bossu, about three- 
quarters of a mile long and 300 yards broad, which lay to their right, on the 
south side of the chaussee, near Quatre Bras." 


1 " A sharply-contested action raged during the whole afternoon as the 
several regiments of the 5th Division, the troops under the Duke of Bruns- 
wick, and the contingent of Nassau successively reached the scene of action. 
The French, superior in Infantry, and possessing nearly double the force of 
Cavalry, made repeated attacks upon the hard-pressed lines of the allies. At 
length the French light troops succeeded in driving the Dutch-Belgian infantry 
out of the Bois-de-Bossu, while some of them almost cleared the space 
between that wood and the high road, thus rendering the issue of the day 
very doubtful. Picton's 5th Division was already very much reduced, and it 
had become not only impracticable to make any offensive movement, but 
it was with difficulty that the Allies were even maintaining their own 
ground, when, at this critical juncture, the opportune arrival of the leading- 
Brigade of Guards, after a march of twenty-six miles, changed the aspect 
of affairs, and caused the French skirmishers to pause in their onward 

" The Prince of Orange, who had galloped along the road to meet the 
British Guards, ordered the light companies of the First Regiment, under Lord 
Saltoun, to advance into the wood to the right of the road, and drive the 
enemy out of it. Lord Saltoun, not perceiving the enemy at the moment, as 
they were mostly concealed from view, asked the Prince where they were ? 
The Prince, mistaking this for hesitation on the part of the officer, replied in 
a hurried, hasty manner, ' Sir, if you don't like to undertake it, I '11 find some 
one.' Saltoun quietly repeated his question ; and on its being pointed out 
to him that they were in the wood, formed his line of skirmishers, and led 
the attack. A small stream runs north and south, through the centre of this 
wood, and at its eastern extremity, furthest from where the Guards approached, 
is a hollow way, affording protection to troops who may occupy it. As the 
leading battalion companies of the Second Battalion, under Colonel Askew, 
came up, they were also ordered by the Prince to enter the wood, two com- 
panies at a time, and, though wearied with a fifteen hours' march, the men 
received the order with a cheer, and with fixed bayonets pushed forward 
after their comrades. Once in the wood, the leading companies had nothing 
to guide them but the sound of the enemy's firing ; but in vain did the thick 
1 History of the Grenadier Guards, vol. iii. p. 17. 


trees impede their progress ; for although the enemy made a resolute defence, 
they were driven back on every side, and the loud sharp rattle of musketry, 
which was heard gradually but steadily advancing, told plainly how successful 
was the progress of the British Guards, and, that even in this quarter, where 
the enemy had hitherto been most successful, he was encountering a most 
vigorous and determined resistance. The French skirmishers attempted to 
take advantage of the rivulet, which crosses the wood, to form up, and arrest 
the further progress of the attack ; but their stand was only momentary, for 
the First Guards, forcing their way across, charged, and, with a cheer, drove 
everything before them, till they debouched on the other side. During 
this manoeuvre, the Light Companies sustained considerable additional loss 
from the hasty and hurried manner in which the Battalion companies were 
ordered forward by the Prince of Orange, to support Lord Saltoun, for, upon 
entering the wood, and hearing a heavy fire in their front, these imagined it 
was the enemy, and commenced firing, and although Lord Saltoun's subaltern, 
Charles Ellis, was sent back to explain, it was impossible to stop the firing 
till they emerged from the wood, at the other end. From the spot where 
the Guards came into the open, they observed the 33d Begiment lying sheltered, 
behind a low hedge, about 150 yards to their left rear, while on their right 
was the deep ravine or hollow way before referred to, and the Guards had no 
sooner readied this spot than they became exposed to the direct fire of the 
enemy's artillery and reserve infantry. The thickness of the underwood had 
thrown the line into some confusion ; and as it continued to be exposed to 
the galling fire of artillery, to which no return could be made, it was deemed 
advisable to draw back to the stream in the wood, which was more out of 
range ; but even here, under the comparative shelter of the trees, some men 
were killed or maimed by the artillery fire that the French continued to 
direct upon them. 

"The Third Battalion of the First Guards, under Colonel Hon. William 
Stuart, had now come up, and the Begiment, after a few moments' repose, 
again advanced, being ordered to form line outside, and to the left, of the 
wood ; which was at once commenced. As the companies had got mixed in 
advancing through the tangled thicket, the men formed up in succession to 
the right as they came into the open ; and men of other Begiments who had 


been engaged before the First Division arrived, gallantly left its cover and fell 
in, taking the opportunity of renewing the fight -with the Guards. Their 
right now rested on the trees, while their left extended through the fields of 
standing corn, towards the chaussee leading from Brussels to Charleroi. In 
this formation General Maitland again and again led forward the First Guards 
to the attack, and as frequently drove the enemy back, but could never get 
beyond a certain point. The Commanding Officers of both Battalions, Askew 
and Stuart, were wounded and put hors de combat in these repeated encounters, 
and were succeeded by Colonels Edward Stables and Francis D'Oyly. Though 
the Guards could not break the enemy's line, they stood steadily pouring a 
withering fire into the French columns, as these attempted gradually to 
deploy ; while the French Cavalry continually moved about, seeking for an 
opportunity to charge. When the Brigade had emerged from the wood to 
form line, a battalion of Brunswickers followed it into the open, and was in 
the act of moving, so as to form up on the Guards' left, when the French 
Cavalry came suddenly down upon the left flank of the Second Battalion, 
forcing it back towards the wood ; and it being impossible to form square in 
presence of the enemy, owing to the previous irregular formation of the line, 
the men intuitively made for the protection offered to them by the hollow 
way above referred to. Here the line was immediately re-formed, protected 
from any further Cavalry attacks, and again the men commenced pouring 
upon their assailants a fire so destructive as nearly to annihilate them. 
Nothing perhaps could have better tested the perfect discipline of the 
Battalions of Guards than the celerity with which, after having been tempo- 
rarily put in confusion by a sudden charge of cavalry, they rallied, re-formed, 
and becoming themselves the assailants, repelled the enemy. The Bruns- 
wickers, whose front became exposed when the Guards were forced into the 
wood, formed square, and opening fire upon the advancing Cavalry, materially 
assisted in their destruction. Many Frenchmen were here taken prisoners, 
and several of their horses which fled riderless were appropriated as fresh 
chargers by the Field Officers of the Guards. The firing was kept up as long 
as daylight lasted, when General Maitland led the Third Battalion forward 
beyond the outskirts of the wood, for which the enemy no longer contended, 
and throwing out a line of picquets in his front for the night, showing thereby 

2 K 


undisputed possession of the battle-field, he directed Colonel Stables, who 
brought the Second Battalion out of action, to move his men to the chaussee 
at the end of the wood, where they enjoyed a well-merited short repose 
before the labours of another day commenced." 

It was probably during the attack of cavalry just mentioned that James 
Lord Hay, eldest son of the Earl of Erroll, who was aide-de-camp to General 
Maitland, fell. He had been acting for the moment as adjutant to Lord 
Saltoun, who used to say that, seeing him mounted on a well-bred horse, he 
advised him to go down a narrow path leading into the wood, before the 
French cavalry came too near, as he had often known highly-bred horses 
refuse awkward places if put suddenly at them, but that Lord Hay said there 
was no fear, as the horse was such a perfect hunter ; that, however, when the 
time came for them both to go down, the horse did refuse, reared, and tried 
to turn round, and that, as Lord Saltoun went down the path, a man's body 
fell across his horse's neck, and rolled off. He called out, "Who's that ?" 
and one of his men answered, " It 's Lord Hay ; but I shot the man that shot 
him." The momentary delay caused by his horse refusing had enabled one 
of the cavalry to fire at him with fatal effect. Sir F. W. Hamilton mentions 
this occurrence in a note. 1 

To resume the extracts from his valuable work, passing to the next day, 
the 17th :— 

2 " Upon the order being given for the allied army to retire from the neigh- 
bourhood of Quatre Bras, the First Division of Guards left their ground a little 
after eleven o'clock, and moved along the chaussee leading to Brussels. The 
day was excessively hot, with indications of a coming storm. . . . After a 
march of about eight miles, the First Division quitted the high road and moved 
to its left along a cart track that soon brought it behind the chateau and 
farm of Hougomont, with its garden, orchard, and wood, all of which became 
for ever memorable on the following day. Here the Division was halted, and 
the men were preparing their bivouac for the night, when an order came to 
move to the right and take up a position on the next rise, along the south- 
west side of the chaussee leading from Nivelles to Mont St. Jean. Scarcely 
had the several battalions moved to their new position than the storm of rain 
' History of the Grenadier Guards, vol. iii. p. 22. 2 Ibid. p. 26. 


that had long been threatening came down, and continued throughout the 
greater part of the night, deluging the men to the skin. 

" About six o'clock in the evening the four Light Companies of the Division 
were suddenly ordered to take possession of the farm-house and grounds of 
Hougomont ; the two light companies of the First Guards, under Lord Saltoun 
and Ellison, occupied the orchard and wood, while the two of the Second 
Brigade occupied the farm-house and garden, which was surrounded by a 
walL The night and the following morning were spent by the Light Com- 
panies in making this position as strong as their means would allow them, 
barricading the gates, and otherwise rendering the buildings as defensible as 
possible, and, at Saltoun's suggestion, loop-holing the garden wall. During 
the first part of the night the French brought up their advanced posts close 
to the line of picquets of the First Guards in the wood and orchard, though 
without attempting to molest them ; but about two in the morning, as their 
tirailleurs were advancing too near, Lieutenant-colonel Ellison, who was 
picquet officer for the night, was ordered from the orchard into the wood to 
drive them out. This he accomplished ; and the wood being an open grove 
without underwood, and easily traversed in every direction, the advanced 
files of the picquets could keep up the communication with each other with- 
out difficulty." 

1 " The several Battalions of the Guards were posted on the rising ground 
above Hougomont in the following order. The Third BattaUon First 
Guards on the extreme left, on the crest of the ridge, in quarter distance 
column of companies, at deploying distance from the right of Halkett's 
Brigade ; the Second Battalion First Guards, in the same formation, was to the 
right rear of the Third Battalion, on the reverse slope, and immediately under 
the crest of the hill. The Second Brigade, under Byng, stood on the crest of 
the ridge between the right of the First Brigade and the Nivelles road, com- 
pletely commanding the chateau and grounds of Hougomont, and thus form- 
ing a support to the troops stationed there. 

" It has generally been understood that the Light Companies of the First 
Brigade of Guards under Saltoun remained permanently in the orchard and 
wood from the previous night till relieved in the course of the action of the 

1 History of the Grenadier Guards, vol. iii. p. 29. 


18th. Sucli was not the case, for in the early morning, just hefore dawn, 
a staff Officer conducted to the post a Battalion of Nassauers, one company of 
Hanoverian riflemen, and 100 Liineburghers, and handed to Lord Saltoun an 
order to deliver up the charge of the orchard to the Officer commanding them, 
and to retire with his own men to join his Brigade, posted on the hill in rear 
of Hougomont. After taking the Nassau officer over the orchard, and show- 
ing him all the plans and preparations for defence, Saltoun was marching 
towards the First Guards' Brigade on the ridge behind Hougomont, when about 
half way, in the early grey of the morning, he met the Duke of Wellington 
and Lord Fitzroy Somerset. The Duke called out, ' Hallo, who are you ? 
Where are you going V Saltoun immediately halted, ordered arms, directed 
his men to lie down, according to an invariable custom ; and on advancing to 
the Duke, explained to him the orders he had received. The Duke was 
surprised, and said, ' Well, I was not aware of such an order ; but, however, 
don't join the brigade yet ; remain quiet here where you are until further 
orders from me,' and then he rode away. 1 Saltoun remained here several 
hours, when, just as the battle was beginning, an aide-de-camp rode up and 
said he was to follow out his former orders and join his Brigade, on reach- 
ing which he gave up his temporary command, and resumed that of his 
company, in rear of his own battalion. Lord Saltoun had no sooner done 
this and ordered arms, when a shout came up, ' Light infantry to the front,' 
and a cry arose of, ' The Nassauers are driven out of the orchard ;' and such 
proved to be the case, for the French had attacked, and in spite of the gallant 
defence that was made, had swept them clear and clean out of it. No time 
was to be lost ; Saltoun was again put in command of the light companies of 
the First Guards, and went down the hill to attack the French. The first 
duty, therefore, that these Light Companies had to perform that day was to 
retake the orchard, not to resist an attack upon it; and that made a great differ- 
ence in the work to be performed so far as these companies were concerned ; 
for when they had re-occupied the wood, which they were not long in doing, 
they found nearly all the preparations they had made for defence completely 

1 In relating this occurrence, Lord Saltoun ning away, Fitzroy," and that it was a false 

used to say that upon his ordering the men rumour of the desertion of large bodies of the 

to lie down, the Duke turned to his com- troops that had caused the Duke to ride about 

panion and said, " That don't look like run- at that early hour to ascertain the truth. 


destroyed, and during the action they had to trust to sheer hard fighting, 
often hand to hand, to maintain their ground. 1 

" Shortly hefore the action commenced, the Duke of "Wellington visited 
the advanced position of Hougomont occupied by the second Brigade of 
Guards under Byng ; and on riding off to another part of the field, left as his 
parting injunctions to that General, that it was to be defended to the last 
extremity, and nobly were those injunctions responded to by the British 

" The battle commenced shortly after eleven o'clock with an attack upon 
this, the key of the allied position, by the infantry of Prince Jerome's corps, 
preceded by a cloud of skirmishers, while from 200 guns the French artillery 
opened fire along their whole line against the allied forces. 

" As the French skirmishers advanced upon Hougomont, they were twice 
checked by the direct fire of the British artillery from the rising ground above, 
but they at length succeeded in effecting an entrance to the wood, and in 
driving back the Nassauers and Hanoverians who had occupied it, when the 
direct fire could no longer be continued. But the further advance of the 
French was soon checked by some shells from a howitzer battery, which the 
Duke sent for, and by the return of the light companies of the First Guards, 
under Lord Saltoun, now again ordered to the front. The companies of the 
Second Brigade at the same time rushed gallantly forward to relieve the foreign 
troops, and the four Light Companies of the two Guards' Brigades together 
eventually cleared the wood for a time of the French skirmishers, who retired 
into the fields beyond. 

" While Wellington had recognised this as the key of the allied position, 
Napoleon had also felt the necessity of securing it before he could make any 
impression upon the centre of the Allies. Jerome's skirmishers were accord- 
ingly reinforced, and in conjunction with General Foy's infantry on their 

' In 1S71 the writer of the present work, Sir John Blomfield, R.H.A., who was one of 

in conversation with some old officers, men- the party, said, "To be sure it was so; I re- 

tioned having heard from Lord Saltoun the member perfectly seeing the Nassauers retir- 

fact of the light companies of the First Guards ing iu skirmishing order from the orchard, 

havingbeen relieved by the Nassau troops, and up the hill towards us, not running away, but 

afterwards having to retake the orchard, thus retiring steadily, fighting in good order, and 

related by Sir F. W. Hamilton, when General very fine and picturesque they looked." 


right, renewed the attack with great vigour. The British Guards of both 
brigades offered a desperate resistance, retiring from tree to tree, and fre- 
quently making a bold and resolute stand, but a superiority of numbers 
forced them at length to return to their original positions ; the First Guards' 
Light Companies on the left falling back to their position in the orchard, the 
Second Brigade Companies retiring to the shelter offered by the chateau itself 
and by a haystack standing outside. The French skirmishers, believing all 
opposition to have ceased, now rapidly advanced through the wood towards 
the building and garden. A hedge forming the northern boundary of the 
wood, towards which they were approaching, appeared to them to form also 
the enclosure of the garden beyond, and, in full confidence that they were 
about to become masters of it, they rushed forward au pas de charge, but 
were soon fatally undeceived ; the loop-holed garden-wall stood thirty yards 
behind the hedge, running parallel to it, behind which stood the Coldstreams 
and Third Guards, and a deadly musketry fire bursting forth from the loop- 
holes, suddenly brought them up surprised and staggered by so unexpected 
a reception, which laid low their foremost ranks. As the French could not 
hope to succeed in storming this little fortress by any direct attack, they had 
recourse to the shelter of the hedge and surrounding trees, from which they 
kept up for some time an unequal fire against the garrison who had so well 
protected themselves. 

" As the French battalions in support were rapidly pushed forward, the 
British artillery recommenced its fire upon them, causing much confusion in 
their ranks, of which the garrison and light companies First Guards at once 
took advantage, and, sallying forth from the flanks, soon regained possession of 
a considerable portion of the wood. On the advance of the Guards the British 
artillery ceased firing, whereupon the French recovering themselves, and 
receiving further reinforcements, again advanced with such determination as 
to force the Guards to return, the Second Brigade to the flanks of the chateau, 
the First Brigade to the left of the garden-wall. The Coldstream and Third 
Guards companies, after having for some time resisted very superior forces, at 
length retired within the buildings, barricading the entrance-gate with every 
available object, and manning the garden-walls, so as to be prepared to resist 
the enemy at every point, while the companies of the First Guards retired as 


far as the hedge on their left of the garden -wall, where Saltoun continued to 
maintain himself. The French in the wood finding a direct attack against 
the garden- wall of no avail, endeavoured to come round its left flank through 
the orchard. Here Saltoun was prepared to meet them, and as they were 
debouching through a gap from the wood into the orchard, he seized the 
opportunity, charged the head of the column with the First Guards' light 
companies, and drove the enemy back into the wood. 

" Another attempt was shortly made by a considerable body of the 
enemy's light troops to turn the left flank of the grounds of Hougomont, by 
advancing along the eastern hedge of the farm enclosures ; while a simulta- 
neous attack was made through the wood and the orchard occupied by Lord 
Saltoun. He had already lost many men, and was once again obliged to 
withdraw, retiring from tree to tree till he reached the shelter of the hollow 
way in the rear face of the enclosure, where he awaited reinforcements before 
he could renew any forward movement. The Duke, from the height above, 
observing how matters were progressing, directed Byng to send down rein- 
forcements from his Brigade, and shortly afterwards two companies of the 
Third Guards were seen advancing along the eastern enclosure to meet the 
enemy, when Lord Saltoun, being thus reinforced on his left, and the advance 
of the French skirmishers in his front having exposed them to the flanking 
fire from the eastern garden-wall, resumed the offensive, cleared the orchard 
of the enemy, and re-occupied its front hedge. 

" Lord Saltoun relates that the several attacks against the front of his post 
were at the time attended with more or less partial success, but that in the end 
the French were always repulsed ; that in one of these attacks, when he had 
been driven from the front hedge of the orchard to the hollow way in rear of 
it, the enemy occupied the front hedge with infantry, and brought up a gun 
to bear upon him, which he endeavoured to seize. He failed in that attempt, 
but regained possession of the hedge, where he firmly established himself." 

1 " About two o'clock, after Byng had reinforced Hougomont with two 

companies of the Third Guards, he perceived that these renewed attempts 

of the enemy upon the orchard were constantly reducing the numbers of 

those entrusted with its defence ; acting, therefore, upon the directions 

1 History of the Grenadier Guards, vol. iii. p. 34. 


given to hini by the Duke, to relieve the men as often as he found it neces- 
sary, but to keep the post to the last moment, he desired Colonel Hepburn 
to move the remainder of his Second Battalion Third Guards down the slope, 
as a further reinforcement to that position. Hepburn on reaching the hollow 
way found it occupied by very few men, viz., the survivors of the two light 
companies of the First Guards, under Saltoun, who (his own subaltern, 
Charles Ellis, being wounded) was left with scarce an effective man with 
whom to continue the gallant defence, which he had been maintaining with 
varied success for nearly four hours in the wood and orchard in front of the 
Chateau. Lord Saltoun, therefore, gave over to Hepburn the charge of that 
part of Hougomont, and at three o'clock rejoined his own battalion, the 
Third, on the heights above. 

" General Maitland said, with reference to the two light companies of the 
First Guards, that they were detached with the other brigade, and that 
General Byng spoke in the highest terms of the conduct of Lord Saltoun, 
and of all the officers and men on this occasion, saying of Lord Saltoun, that 
' his conduct was admirable.' 

" The battalion of Colclstreams, under Colonel Alexander Woodford (with 
the exception of two companies left on the ridge in charge of the colours), was 
also subsequently sent forward to assist in the defence of Hougomont, which, 
at a later period, sustained another still more determined attack, but thanks 
to the opportune arrival of these comparatively fresh battalions of Guards, the 
enemy's efforts were as unavailing as before. 

" The value that Napoleon attached to the possession of this post may be 
estimated by the fact that eight thousand of his troops were placed hors de 
combat in these several unsuccessful attempts to carry it, and when evening 
and defeat came to him, the burning ruins were still in possession of its 
gallant defenders." * 

z " It was now about four o'clock, and the cannonade was very heavy during 
the interval of the Cavalry charges. The two commanding officers of batta- 
lions, D'Oyly and Stables, were both wounded, and placed hors de combat, 

1 These defenders, from first to last, numbered under 2000 men, of whom, for the first four 
hours, not more than one-third were engaged in the defence. 

2 History of the Grenadier Guards, vol. iii. p. 37. 


when the command of the 3rd Battalion devolved upon Lord Saltoun, who 
had lately joined from Hougomont, and that of the second upon Lieutenant- 
Colonel Eeeve. The two wounded Colonels were carried off the field, and 
Colonel Stables died the following morning, to the great regret of all his 
brother officers." 

1 " The Prussians at length began to make their appearance on the field 
near Planchenoit, to the right and right rear of the French, and Napoleon 
was now pressed by them on that flank. In vain had he endeavoured with 
his cavalry to shake the British squares ; in vain had he stormed again and 
again the stronghold of Hougomont on the British right; in vain had he 
attempted to force Picton on their left. Most of his troops had been baffled, 
but there still remained to him one more chance of retrieving the fortunes of 
the day ; he still fondly hoped that the hour of his triumph was at hand, and 
that he should be able once more to grasp as firmly as ever the sceptre of 
Imperial France. He resolved to organise the columns of Grenadiers and 
Chasseurs of his Imperial Guards, and hurl them against the centre of the 
allied position, where stood firmly as a rock Maitland's 1st brigade of British 

" The following anecdote, referring to this period, is recorded of Lord 
Saltoun by an intimate friend, and his former Adjutant, During a lull, just 
after the repulse of one attack, and before the final one, the Duke was on his 
horse close to the 1st Brigade, and after looking carefully with his glass along 
the whole of the French position, turned to those of his staff near him, saying, 
' Well, I think they are pretty well told out now.' Saltoun immediately said 
to one of the staff officers, ' I don't know ; when I was outside the wood at 
Hougomont, this morning, before the action began, I watched a column of 
men, as far as I can guess about 5000 or 6000, go into a hollow opposite ; 
I have kept my eye on this spot all day, and have never seen them come 
out yet.' Upon this being repeated to the Duke, he turned his glass in that 
direction, and after a moment's pause exclaimed, ' By God, he is right ! 
they are coming out now ;' and it is said that the Duke was so much struck 
with the coolness and power of observation exhibited by Lord Saltoun under 
such circumstances, that he ever afterwards spoke of him as a thorough soldier." 

1 History of the Grenadier Guards, vol. iii. p. 39. 
2 L 


^'For an hour before carrying out his plan, Napoleon directed a furious 
concentrated fire from the whole of his artillery, upon that portion of 
the allied position lying between the farm of Hougomont and La Haye 
Sainte. Fortunately there ran along this part of the field of battle a cart 
road, on one side of which was a ditch and bank. In and under cover of 
these, the 1st Brigade of Guards sheltered themselves during this terrific 
cannonade, which lasted about three-quarters of an hour, and without its 
protection the two battalions must have been annihilated. Napoleon pro- 
bably calculated on such an effect, but he had yet to learn the extent of British 
fortitude and endurance. 

" The Duke was well aware of the enemy's intention, and being at this 
time close to the two battalions of the First Guards, which at first were in 
squares, and with which he remained during the subsequent attack, he desired 
General Maitland to form them into line four deep, as he thought it possible 
that Napoleon would support the attack with his cavalry. Maitland imme- 
diately carried out the Duke's order, covering his change of formation with a 
line of skirmishers under Swinburn, who only rejoined his battalion a few 
moments before the enemy was upon them. The formation into Hne, instead 
of being made by deployment, was effected by simply wheeling up to the 
front the four-deep flank faces of the square, the rear faces forming the 
extremities of each battalion, so that the grenadier companies were in the 
centre, and the men could more readily form square again, should circum- 
stances require it. The whole brigade as it now stood, four deep, occupied 
only the length of one battalion in line." 

2 "The above formation was scarcely completed, and the men ordered to 
lie down again, when, at a quarter past seven, the furious cannonade suddenly 
ceased. As the smoke gradually cleared away, under cover of which 
Napoleon had been organising his attack, near La Belle Alliance, a superb 
sight opened upon the brigade. Close columns of regiments of the Old 
Imperial Guard, 5000 strong, directed by Napoleon himself, and led by Ney, 
on foot (for his horse had been shot under him), were seen advancing up the 
slope au ]ias cle charge direct upon them, with shouts of ' Vive I'Empereur !' 

" These columns were composed of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th regiments 
1 History of the Grenadier Guards, vol. iii. p. 40. 2 Ibid. p. 41. 


of grenadiers of the Old Imperial Guard, under the command respec- 
tively of Generals Christiani, Poret, and Harlet, all in line of battalion close 
columns, forming a front of three companies. The 1st regiment of grena- 
diers of the Guard, 1300 strong, remained in reserve on the heights of La 
Belle Alliance, and General Count Friant, the colonel and commander-in- 
chief of the Old Guard, remained with this regiment on the heights. 

" As the leading columns, apparently as regularly formed as for a field-day, 
began to ascend the incline on the top of which the British First Guards were 
posted, they became exposed to the concentrated artillery fire of the right 
wing of the allies, by which they suffered much. Notwithstanding this they 
continued their advance in admirable order, and with the greatest enthusiasm, 
preceded by a cloud of skirmishers ; but these were soon driven back upon 
their main body by a fire of canister, grape, and shrapnel shells, delivered 
at a distance of less than 100 yards. At first, to their astonishment, these 
columns met no enemy to offer any obstruction to their further progress, 
when, after arriving within from twenty to thirty yards of the position 
occupied by the First Guards, they suddenly saw rise up before them what 
proved to be to them an impenetrable barrier. 

" The Duke now gave directions to Maitland, saying, ' Now, Maitland, 
now 's your time,' and immediately the men were ordered to rise. They had 
already been warned to reserve their fire till the enemy should arrive within 
a very short distance. It was, as Siborne relates, a moment of thrilling 
excitement. The First Guards springing up so suddenly, in a most compact 
four-deep line, appeared to the enemy as starting out of the ground. The 
Imperial Guard, with their high bonnets, as they crowned the summit of the 
ridge, appeared to the British, through the smoky haze of the battle-field, 
like a corps of giants advancing upon them. 

" The British Guards instantly opened their fire with a tremendous volley, 
thrown in with great coolness and precision, and the enemy were then so close 
upon them, some only fifteen yards, that the men would fire without putting 
their muskets to the shoulder, while to accelerate the subsequent file-firing 
the rear ranks passed their loaded muskets to the front. An oblique fire was 
also poured in upon the right flank of the advancing column by the 33d and 
and 69th British regiments, which had been promptly pushed forward by 


Halket on the left of the Guards. The head of the column, surprised at this 
sudden apparition, halted, and the entire mass staggered under the effect of 
the murderous fire poured into them at such close quarters. In less than a 
minute, more than three hundred of the ' Vieille Garde ' fell to rise no more ; 
but the high spirit and innate valour of the Imperial Guard were not to be 
subdued by a first repulse ; their officers, placing themselves in the front 
and on the flanks, called aloud, waved their swords, and by words and 
gestures attempted a deployment into line, in order to acquire a more 
extended front ; but the head of the column being continually shattered and 
driven back by the well-sustained fire of the Guards within so limited a 
space, the attempt was fruitless. The confusion into which the enemy's 
columns were now thrown became every moment more manifest, and the 
Duke, seizing the opportunity, ordered Maitland to charge, which order was 
instantly obeyed. At the same time Saltoun, equally alive to the real state 
of the enemy's columns, shouted to his battalion, ' Now 's the time, my boys.' 
The brigade answered with a cheer, and led by Maitland, Saltoun, Eeeve, and 
Gunthorpe, who placed themselves in front, sprang forward to the charge, and 
as they continued down the hill in pursuit of the Imperial Guard, they 
passed over a hedge of dead and dying bodies that lay in front of the position 
they had so gloriously defended." .... 

" As the brigade continued its pursuit down the slope, in the direction of 
La Belle Alliance, its right flank became exposed to a second column, the 
Chasseurs of the Imperial Guard, who were advancing, but too late, from a 
point nearer to the enclosure of Hougomont, to the support of their brethren 
of the first column. Maitland perceiving this, and seeing that his right flank 
might be turned, halted, and ordered the right wing of the second battalion 
to be thrown back, so as to be parallel with the line of advance of the French 
column. In the midst of this manoeuvre the third battalion, mistaking the 
word of command, ' halt, front, form wp', for 'form square,' commenced that 
formation, expecting the enemy's cavalry to be down upon them. The mis- 
take, however, was soon rectified, and in a few moments the brigade was 
again near its former position, in a four-deep line, with its left thrown a little 
forward, ready to repel this second attacking column of the Imperial Guards. 
Meamvhile Adams, having brought his brigade to the ground formerly occu- 


pied by the second brigade of Guards, had formed his line, throwing forward 
his right shoulder, the second battalion 95th on the left, then the 52nd and the 
71st on the right, extending towards Hougomont. As the second column of 
the Chasseurs of the Imperial Guard advanced up the slope in similar forma- 
tion to the First, it was received by Adams' Brigade, which poured a destruc- 
tive fire into its left flank, and was met in front by the direct fire of the First 
Guards, who had thrown forward their left, to be more directly opposed to 
the advancing columns. This flank fire of Adams' Brigade mainly contributed 
to the final overthrow of the second column, and as the Duke of Wellington 
saw it begin to waver, he ordered a general advance of the whole line ; 
Adams' Brigade followed this second column, while the First Guards, under 
Maitland, followed the track of the first column, until it reached the Charleroi 
road, near La Belle Alliance. Here the first regiment of Grenadiers of the 
old French Imperial Guards, that had been left in reserve, attempted, after 
forming square, to stem the flying torrent and its pursuers ; but to no avail ; 
it shared the fate of the other regiments, broke, and nought remained of the 
army of Imperial France but a confused mass of soldiery, which during the 
following night continued a disorderly retreat, pursued by the avenging 

" As for the supposed historical reply of the French Guard, ' La Garde 
meurt mais ne se rend pas !' General Cambronne, who commanded part of it, 
did surrender, and was made prisoner by the British Guards ; and it was Lord 
Saltoun himself who, at the moment of his surrender, gave him in charge to 
a tall grenadier, named Kent, who conducted him to Brussels. 

" The First Guards, having pursued as far as the Charleroi road, formed 
into column, and continued their advance along the chaussee, through the 
whole depth of the late French position, and bivouacked for the night in the 
fields on the right, two miles in advance of the position of Waterloo, a name 
which their bravery and discipline, as well as devotedness to their sovereign 
and their country, had this day so much contributed to render immortal." 

The above extracts speak for themselves, and show the opinion of Lord 
Saltoun's conduct during those eventful days, formed by those well able to 
judge of how a soldier did his duty ; and his letters to his wife, while they 
say little or nothing of his own personal adventures, breathe a spirit of honest 


exultation at the success of his country's arms, of cheerfulness and resolute 
contentment as regarded himself, and of much feeling for the loss of comrades 
and the sorrows of others. The first of these letters was written the day after 
the battle, and consists of a few hurried lines to relieve the anxiety of those 
at home : — 

" Field of battle, near Waterlude, 
"June 19th. 
" I have only just time to tell you that I have lived through two of the 
sharpest actions ever fought by men. We have defeated the French at all 
points, and they are in full retreat. Our loss has been prodigious, and many 
of my best and oldest friends are gone, but these things must tarry, — my 
favourite little horse was shot under me, and at present I have only one, but 
I must get another here. I have no time to write more at length, as, if I do, 
1 fear I shall be too late for the Staff Officer who is to take this. So God 
bless you, my dear love, and believe me ever your affectionate 

" Saltoun." 

He did not find time to write again until the 2 2d, when he gave his 
wife the following simple account of the events in which he had been 
engaged : — 

" Camp near Gomini (Gourmignies), 
"22 June 1815. 

" I wrote you a few lines from the field of battle on the 1 9th, but I have 
just heard that letters are to go immediately to England. I take this oppor- 
tunity of telling you what has taken place since I wrote last from Hove on 
the 15th. A few hours after my letter was gone, we got the alarm that 
Eoneparte had attacked the Frussians, and we were ordered to march at a 
moment's notice, and on the morning of the 16th, at 3, we marched from 
Hove, through Braine and Mvelles, to a place called Quatre-bras, which 
place we reached about 5 in the afternoon, and were immediately very hotly 
engaged in the Bois de Bossu, and at nightfall we had succeeded in taking 
the wood from the enemy, but not without very great loss. My old friends 
Grose and Miller fell in the affair, with many others, and about five hundred 
men of the Kegiment. During this time Boney had attacked the Frussians at 
Fleurus, and had gained some advantages, so as to oblige them to retreat. Our 


position of Quatre-bras being in consequence exposed on the left, we were 
obliged to fall back, and accordingly, on the 1 7th, retired, and took post in 
position at Water-leud. On the 18th Napoleon attacked us with the whole 
of his army. The action was extremely severe, and our loss much greater 
than in any of the battles in the Peninsula. . . . The infantry formed squares, 
and about five o'clock had completely repulsed and destroyed the finest 
cavalry by their steadiness in square, and the excellence of their fire. About 
half-past six Napoleon made his last desperate attack, at the head of his Old 
Imperial Guards, upon our brigade. It was a thing I always wished for, and 
the result was what I have often said it would be ; to do them justice they 
came on Like men, but our boys went at them like Britons, and drove them 
off the field in less than ten minutes. 

" From that moment the day was our own, and the French were com- 
pletely routed, and fled, leaving their artillery, stores, baggage, and an 
immense number of prisoners. The Prussians are in hot pursuit, and have 
taken a great many prisoners. 

"On the 19th we marched to Nivelles, 20th to a village near Binche, 
yesterday to Bavay, and to-day we are bivouacked here. Our baggage is a 
long way in the rear, and I do not know when I shall get a clean shirt, I 
have got my tooth- brush, so I am not quite a beast. 

" I am sure you will be very sorry for poor Stables, he was killed on the 

" In short, we have lost in the First Regiment twelve officers killed and 
twenty-two wounded. I was in great luck again, as I had two horses killed 
under me, and a ball through my cap, but the head remains as good as ever. 
I have been very much applauded, and so forth, and been reported for good 
conduct, and every one says that I am sure of a medal. I am so glad Eng- 
land had the first of it, I was always certain of the event, if he and the 
Duke ever met, and now we consider the whole thing as over." 

On the 25th he wrote : — " I like your quizzing about our soldiers. . . . We 
have tolerable proof now of what they are worth, and the oldest French 
soldiers say they never saw such a battle as the one at Water-leud. I think 
I told you that our Peg 4 and Napoleon's Guards came in contact, and I can 
assure you we handled them most handsomely." 


And again, on the 29th : — " I suppose people in England are half mad, 
we hear of illuminations, etc. etc., to be sure the Victory is the greatest 
that ever was gained, not only by us, but by any people, but it was at the 
same time very dearly bought, the Gazette does not contain one-fifth of 
the officers who have suffered in this business. I send you that of our 
Reg*, as you may hear them asked for. 


" Lt. -Colonel Stables. 

Captain Grose. 



F. D'Oyly. 

,, Chambers 


Lord Hay. 

,, Thomas. 

,, Cameron. 





,, Brown. 

„ Milnes. 

" Wounded — 

Colonel Askew. Lt. -Colonel Townshend. Captain Adair. 

Ensign Batty. 

„ Stuart. „ 

Cooke. „ 



H. D'Oyly. 



Bradford. ,, 



Hardinge. ,, 



Lord F.Somerset. „ 






„ Burgess. 

" We had 82 officers of the regiment in the held, of which 34 have been 
killed or wounded; 1 so shot, you will perceive, did not fly very thin that 
morning. I should have mentioned Stables in my first letter, but I did not 
know what had been his fate. I saw him fall, and the next morning when 
I wrote, I did not know what sort of a wound he had received, and I did 
not like sending a false report of his death, although, from the way he fell, 
I was much afraid of him." 

In these letters Lord Saltoun mentions having had two horses killed 

under him ; when each fell the saddle was, of course, ungirthed, and with the 

cloak rolled up across the pommel, was placed upon another horse. After 

the battle, when his batman unrolled the cloak, no less than seventeen 

musket-balls were found in it, many of which must have been fatal had they 

not been stopped by the cloak. It is said that the batman, who had previ- 

1 The above list is not quite correct, though out of the eighty-two officers in the field. Lord 
very nearly so; the name of Lieutenant-colonel Saltoun, in the hurry of writing, says thirty- 
George Fead slightly wounded, being omitted, four, though he names thirty-five in his list, 
which makes thirty-six killed and wounded 


ously been a very foul-tongued man, was so struck with this, that no oath 
or bad language was ever heard to proceed from his mouth again. 

In his letter of the 25th, begun at Camp near Serain, Lord Saltoun 
says, "Yesterday we marched from Gourmignies to a place called Boussiers 
short of Cateau, to-day we marched through Cateau" (Le Cateau Cambresis) 
" to this place. The weather is most horrible, and resembles more a 
winter than a summer campaign ; for it has rained almost every day since 
the action, and the roads — for as yet we have been marching by the cross- 
roads, and not the chaussees, to avoid the strong places — are up to the 
men's knees in mud. The old King came up to us yesterday, and to- 
day remains at Cateau. I am sorry to say poor Hughes " (his servant) " is 
in a bad way. I have been obliged to leave him in the village where we 
halted last night, for from violent rheumatics he was unable to sit on his 
horse ; and the number of our wounded is so great, added to the confusion 
that took place in the rear, owing to the false alarm the day of the Battle, 
that our carts for carrying sick men have never come up, so I do not know 
whether I shall ever see him again, indeed I much fear I shall not ; this, 
added to the very disagreeable task, which I have just got through, of writ- 
ing to the families of all our poor officers who fell an account of their death, 
which as Commanding Officer I am obliged to do, the loss in action having 
given me the temporary command of the second Battalion, has made me 
very melancholy." 

Lord Saltoun appears, however, to have been superseded in his command 
of the battalion by some senior officer, for in the next service performed by the 
First Begiment of Guards, for the description of which a reference must again 
be made to Sir F. W. Hamilton's pages, he is found once more in command 
of the light companies of the brigade. This service was the capture of the 
maiden fortress of Peronne. 

1 " On the morning of the 26th of June, as Sir John Byng " (who was now 
temporarily commanding the first corps dlarm&e, consisting of the first and 
third infantry divisions) " was passing the village of Vermand, where the 
main body of the Duke's army lay, he learnt that the Duke himself was there, 
and waited on him. The Duke at once exclaimed, ' You are the very person 

1 History of the Grenadier Guards, vol. iii. p. 55. 
2 M 


I wish to see ; I want you to take Peronne ; you may as well take with you 
the Brigade of Guards and a Dutch- Belgian brigade. I shall be there almost 
as soon as yourself.' Peronne was distant about eleven miles from the 
Guards' then position. Byng having given the necessary instructions to 
Maitland's Brigade of First Guards and to a Dutch-Belgian brigade, the 
former marched off at once, and reached Peronne at the same time as the 
Duke, who immediately summoned the garrison, and proceeded to reconnoitre 
the fortress in person. Perceiving that it might be taken by storm, he gave 
orders to prepare for an assault, and directed the attack to be made upon a 
hornwork which covers the suburbs on the left bank of the Somme. To the 
Third Battalion First Guards, preceded by the light companies of the First 
Brigade under Lord Saltoun, was given the task of assaulting the place, while 
the Second Battalion carried the fascines for their comrades. As the Guards 
advanced they separated into two columns of attack, the left one destined to 
scale the left face of the right demi-bastion ; the right one to force an entrance 
by the ravelin and through the gate, which was blown open by the Engineers 
who assisted in the operation. Saltoun immediately rushed to the assault 
with his light companies, which experienced some slight loss as they crossed 
the ditch, while Saltoun himself was struck by a grape-shot as he was mount- 
ing the scaling-ladder, but fortunately the shot striking a purse full of coins, in 
his pocket, lessened the blow, so that it inflicted but slight injury, and he 
refused to report himself wounded. The hornwork was carried with little 
loss, and a Dutch brigade of four 9-pounders being brought up and estab- 
lished to the east of the town, to take in reverse the face to be attacked, a 
few shots were exchanged ; while a brigade of four field-pieces was placed 
so as to command the front of the hornwork itself. After a short interval 
General Byng sent forward Lieutenant-Colonel Stanhope, his acting Quarter- 
master General, with a flag of truce, upon which the garrison capitulated, 
and the maiden fortress surrendered to the Guards, on condition of the men 
being allowed to go to their homes. As General Byng was returning to 
Vermand to report to the Duke the capture of the fortress, he met about half- 
way the Dutch-Belgian brigade, which had been ordered at the same time as 
the Guards to proceed to the front." 

In writing to his wife of this affair, on the 27th, in continuation of his 


letter begun on the 25 th, Lord Saltoun said : — " I am now, my dear love, quite 
out of the blue devils ; for yesterday, on the march from Serain to Caulain- 
court, we were halted at Vermand, and our brigade sent to the right to attack 
Peronne, which we stormed yesterday evening with very little loss. I have 
heard an old saying that everything is made for some purpose ; but I do not 
suspect you had the least idea, when you made my little purse, that it would 
ever be put to the use that it was. Yesterday, during the storm of Peronne, a 
grape-shot hit me full in the thigh. Fortunately, I had the little purse in that 
pocket, full of small gold pieces called ducats, which so stopped the ball, that, 
although it knocked me down, it lodged in the purse, and has given me a slight 
bruise, not half so bad as a blow from a stick. Had it not been for the purse 
it would have been very near a finish. So you see, my dear Kate, I owe you 
something. The purse is cut right open by the ball, but I shall not have it 
mended until it comes into your hands. What is rather odd, the little heart 
I had in it is the only thing not hurt, for all the gold pieces are bent and 
twisted about properly. I write this, first, because I promised to write exactly 
what happened ; and next, because they are so fond of killing people in re- 
ports, especially if they have been hit in the slightest manner possible." 1 
In reply to this letter, Lady Saltoun wrote on the 3d of July : — 
" I this morning received your dear letter of the 25th and 27th. I am 
most thankful your life has been spared, but the many narrow escapes quite 
horrify me. I had hoped, from your letter of the 22d, all the fighting was 

1 Although he had many narrow escapes, they were given to Mrs. Brown, wife of 

this was the only occasion upon which Lord General Samuel Brown, and Lady Saltoun's 

Saltoun was hit during his long service. He sister, who had expressed a wish to have 

made light of the matter to his wife, describ- them. They were kept by her, together 

ing the bruise as slight, and, doubtless to with Lord Saltoun's letter of the 27th June, 

remove all apprehension, said that he told her and Lady Saltoun's reply of the 3d July, 

exactly what happened ; but the blow was, relating to the affair, from which the above 

in reality, much more severe. The purse and extracts have been made. When Mrs. Brown 

its contents were driven into the groin, from died, the purse and the letters were missed, 

which the surgeon, having cut the pocket probably stolen by some unprincipled person 

away from the trousers, and gathering its for the sake of the gold. The letters were 

edges together, pulled out the whole mass, picked up on the high road, near Ipswich, 

when a pledget and some plaister put all to during the time of some races near that town, 

rights. The purse, the gold coins, and heart and were forwarded to the writer of this 

were long preserved by Lady Saltoun, and narrative by the finder ; but the purse and 

after her death by himself. At his decease gold pieces have never been recovered. 


over, not that I shall, or can, feel really happy till you are returned safe ; 
this last escape is quite frightful to think of, and most miraculous that your 
valuable life should hang on such a trifling thing as that little purse ; lucky 
indeed it was you had it in your pocket. I shall value it ever more ; pray 
don't part with any of the gold coins that were in it if you can help it, they 
will be invaluable to me. I want words to express all I feel at your repeated 
kindness and attention in writing so often, and such long letters too, when 
you must have a thousand other things to do and to think of; they do 
afford me great comfort, and as much consolation as I can receive in your 
absence. I immediately communicate to your mother and sisters the heads 
of your letters, so that they are never kept in suspense about you. ... I am 
very sorry for poor Hughes, I read that part of the letter to your mother 
and sisters, so that they will use their discretion in telling his wife ; she 
seems to love him so sincerely, that I pity her from the bottom of my heart. 
I trust you do not give up all hopes of his coming home safe at last, poor 
man ! The chance is but small, I fear. I heard you were promoted, but 
have yet to learn what it is. ... I heard of your word of command being 
given through the whole line, to follow your example, and that it was the 
Duke who ordered them to follow the example of the Guards. I hope and 
trust he knew it was you who commanded them at the moment, for I long 
for you to have all the honours due to you ; I am sure they would be pretty 
numerous. . . . You seem to have but a scanty quantity of comforts just 
now with these quick movements, but you always make the best of every- 

In another letter, in answer to one from his wife, he writes on the 15th 
July, upon the same subject of his having been hit at Peronne : — 

" As to being returned wounded at Peronne, it is all fiddlesticks. I do 
not intend that my military reputation, if ever I get any, shall have so hollow 
a foundation." 

He continues in the letter of the 27th June : — 

" The headquarters are to-day at Nesle, where a deputation has arrived 
from Paris to wait upon the Duke. I hope he will receive no terms till he 
dictates them from the Tuilleries, and I rather think he will be of my way of 
thinking in that particular." 


On the 29th he writes from the camp at Choisi : — 

" The Prussians had an affair two days ago with Soult at Compeigne, in 
which Soult was beat, and suffered considerably ; they say to-day that 
Boneparte has left Paris and gone to Havre, with an intention of embarking 
for America, it is the best thing he can do now, for if he is taken, I do not 
know what the Allies will do with him, but I should think they would hang 

" "We have to-day fallen into the line of a column of Prussians, who have 
been plundering at such a rate that all the villages are entirely deserted, and 
I may almost say destroyed. To be sure they are only paying off old scores, 
but it is rather a bore for us, as we have great difficulty in purchasing any 
articles of provision, for the people are afraid of returning to their houses, as 
they do not know that they will be protected by us." 

On the 2d July, from Le Bourjet : — 

" I wrote you last on the 29th, on the 30th we marched to La Chapelle, 
about two miles beyond Senlis ; and yesterday we came to this place, which 
is about two miles beyond Gonesse, on the left of St. Denis, and nearly 
parallel with it ; and we have taken our position on this ground, our right 
resting on the Seine, opposed to St. Denis, where the French are strorjg, our 
centre in this town, which is immediately opposite to Mont Martre, and our 
left resting on the canal de l'Ourcq, to the left of the road that runs through 
this place to Paris, which is about four miles distant ; and I rather think we 
shall remain in this position till the Eussians and Austrians come up. The 
Prussian army, on our arrival yesterday, made a movement to the right, 
crossed the Seine at the bridge of St. Germain, and are to take post on that 
side of Paris, at Malmaison, St. Cloud, and Versailles. . . . 

" We were yesterday on the advance posts with the Prussians, support- 
ing them, until Lord Hill's corps came up, when we took our front of the 
line, and they told us they took the whole of Vandame's baggage, as well 
as Napoleon's. One of their officers of light cavalry fell in with his jewels, 
and had his pocket full of diamonds. I wish I had had the same luck, I 
would have put them to good account, besides the iclat of the thing. If I 
fall in with him again, I will try and buy some of them, but yesterday I 
was not very full of cash, as the baggage had not come up ; he wanted to 


buy a horse, but mine had such a devil of a sore back that it would not go 
down, even with a Prussian. They have the greatest confidence in us. They 
say that the French used to tell them that we were good for nothing on land, 
of which, however, they had doubts ; but they say they had not the least 
idea our troops were so good as they are. All their troops formed and 
cheered us as we passed them, which we answered ; and as the French posts 
were quite within hearing, the effect on them could not have been very 

"Bourjet, 4th July 1815. 
" I am at this moment on the advance posts, and we have just heard that 
we are to occupy Paris to-morrow, and the French army is to retire behind 
the Loire, and make as good terms with the King as they can. Our army is 
to encamp in the Bois de Boulogne." 

"Villette, 6th July 1815. 
" I this morning received yours of the 29th, and I did not intend to have 
written before to-morrow, as I was in hopes that we should have marched 
through Paris with laurels in our caps, as we deserve to do, but the Heads 
think otherwise, and we are therefore to go to-morrow to the Bois de 
Boulogne to encamp. ... It does not suit my taste sneaking round a Capital 
in this manner. I almost regret that they did not defend the heights of 
Mont Martre : to be sure we should have lost 2 or 3 thousand men in taking 
them, but then we should have burned the town, and that would have been 
some satisfaction, for I hate these rascals almost as much as I love you, and 
that is more than they can be hated by any other. Poor Grose and myself 
were brothers in that hatred, and if the brave fellow were alive, he would 
have gone half mad to suppose that we came victorious to the gates of Paris, 
and did not show the natives that we were so. So much for national indigna- 
tion ! Our chief has probably good reasons ; for my part I would not give a 
straw to march through it when the Eussians come up. As to your getting 
what you call a detailed account of the action of Waterloo from the Duke, 
you will get no other than the one you have got already. It is rather unfor- 
tunate, and the army are sorry for it, that my name was not mentioned, and 
but for a mistake, which I will explain when we meet, I know that it would 


have been ; but I have been so handsomely reported by the Prince of Orange, 
Generals Byng and Maitland, to the Dukes of Wellington and York, that I 
am perfectly satisfied, and some day I shall lead a division, perhaps a vic- 
torious army ; so your moralising preamble must be postponed sine die, as it 
is the only point I think you will never gain with me. To tell the truth, I 
do not think you remember we always agreed that a dead lion was better 
than a living dog. 1 

" We came here yesterday. This is, if I may use the term, part of Paris, 
as much so as Connausht Place is of London, for it is the same distance from 
the Barriere as that is from Tyburn. Lord Castlereagh has arrived : I saw 
him as he passed by here, but I understand he has not gone into the town, 
but has gone to the Duke's headquarters. Party is running very high in the 
town, but I think we shall have no more fighting. 

" I have no doubt myself that Napoleon is with the army, incog., but his 
chance gets more and more desperate as the allies come up, and he will probably 
start for America, for the army will never give him up to us ; at least if they 
do, they will lose with me that little respect I still have for them. Your 
story of ears and noses is quite morning post. They had something else to 
do about that time, but the Prussians treat them much as if their noses 
and ears had been cut off, and I suspect that the Eussians are not far 
off, for the people have come in to-day from the country, saying that the 
pillage is still going on : they are perfectly thunderstruck at our men not 
doing the same, as their own troops plunder them, and how we prevent our 
men from doing it perfectly astonishes them." 

"Paris, 10th July 1815. 

" Here we are well established, and the old King as regularly crammed 
down their throats as anything could possibly be. He made his entrie yester- 
day at the head of the National Guards, and all the Eagles are upset, and the 
Fleur de Lys everywhere ; not but what there is a very strong party against 
him, but I do not think they lean towards Boney, they are rather for a 

" I was at the Opera last night, and the people had Vive Henri Quatre 

1 Evidently in reply to a suggestion that he should leave the service. 



played over and over again, and a great deal of hollaing, and so forth ; but 
I am told they did just the same when Napoleon came : if so, it all goes for 
nothing. They say that the army have sent deputies to make submission : 
if so, the game is over, for this time at least. ... At present we are encamped 
in Bois de Boulogne, and I suppose we shall remain there. I am in a house 
half way between the Bois and the Barriere de Boule : the distance is not 
above two miles, so it is nothing on horseback ; not that there is much to 
see here since I saw it last, but one rides in to dinner, as the traiteurs here 
are rather superior to our soldier cooks. . . . The people here, I mean the 
gentlemen, are inclined to be particularly civil to us ; indeed, they are much 
struck with the strict discipline we preserve, so totally different from conti- 
nental armies now-a-days, and which gives us such a decided advantage over 
them ; and lucky for them it is so, for if our army were permitted to plunder 
and destroy as the Prussians and others are, they would first of all get drunk, 
and then they would burn down the town, or commit some horrible massacre 
or other. . . . 

" I have as yet heard nothing of poor Hughes. I mean to send a man 
back to the village to inquire about him, for it is rather out of the direct 
road. He was perfectly well in health when he was left, and therefore I 
am not afraid of him, — at least the surgeon is not, — yet I think he ought to 
have turned up before now." 

"Paris, 12 July 1815. 

" I forget if I told you in my last that the Kings and Emperors were 
arrived. They are however come, and, what is worse, we have to mount 
guard over them, which, in our present reduced state of Lt.-colonels, comes 
rather sharp ; and what I am most afraid of is, that when our draft comes, 
they may, in consequence, take it into their gracious heads to refuse me leave, 
which will be rather a bore, as it will fix me here till the end of the chapter. 
Now, if that event takes place, and they refuse me leave, you shall, if you like, 
come here, for, as Mahomet observed (and he is very good authority), if the 
mountain would not come to him he must go to the mountain. My only 
reason, next to seeing you, for wanting to go home, is that I wish to go to 
Scotland : now, if I can't go there, I see no reason why you should not see 
France. ... I think all the fighting over, but if anything else should blow 


up before these grand continental matters are settled, you can only return. I 
do not think these things will be settled under three or four months, and if 
you were here, I don't care if they take as many years to debate it, for the 
country is a very good one to live in. . . . No one knows anything certain 
about Napoleon, and nobody seems to care anything about him. Paris is just 
the same as when I was here last, and the rascals are calling Vive le Eoi now, 
as lustily as they last week cried Vive 1'Empereur. . . . Hughes came up 
yesterday, his rheumatism has left him, but he is very thin, as he got very- 
little to eat on the road." 

"Paris, 15th July 1815. 
" You may see by the paper I am not at home. The fact is, I am on 
guard over H.M. the Emperor of all the Eussias, and as he gives nothing but 
long paper, I am obliged to manoeuvre it as well as I possibly can. We 
have just clone dinner, six o'clock, about an hour before you are thinking 
about dressing for yours ; it is very well this hour for His Majesty's house- 
hold, who can go out and walk in the cool of the evening, but for us, who 
have to remain here, rather too early. However, I will do him the justice to 
say that the dinner was a very good one, and by a fortunate accident we had 
a clean table-cloth, for the waiter, a regular ruffian of a fellow, had put such 
a beastly thing on the table that it was even too much for us, who of late 
days have not been much used to luxury. However, I had the satisfaction to 
make the most unfortunate mistake in the world, just as he put some wine 
down, by breaking a bottle of it, which so sluiced the table-cloth that 
we were perforce obliged to have another, which was clean. Some of the 
Emperor's household dined with us, and they were tolerably genteel fellows, 
and spoke very good French, and some little English, indeed most of the 
Eussians are good linguists. . . . About Gazettes, as if 500 others were not 
exactly in the same situation as I am, and as if I do not know that it has 
been the only outcry against the Duke of W. ever since he commanded an 
army, that he seldom or never mentioned people, excepting Generals and 
others high up in the army. ... I rather suspect you will have to come 
here, for General Vivian has gone to England for the same purpose, to bring 
his wife, and if any person could have got leave, I think he might. Besides, 
if they only give a month, it will not be worth while, so you' may, if you feel 

2 N 


inclined, make up your mind to soldier a little. . . . No news of any kind, 
and nothing as yet known of what the remains of Boney's army mean to do. 
They have not as yet made submission, nor will they, I suspect, as long as 
they can get any thing to plunder where they are. I hope the king will cut 
off a good many heads, but I am told he will not, and the consequence will 
be that he will be deposed in less than two years, and France a Eepublick." 

"Paris, 22 nd July 1815. 

"... To-day we had a review of a division of the Prussian Guards, 
13,000 strong ; the finest body of men I ever saw in my life, the only horrid 
thing is the French have licked them like sacks. On Monday next, at 1 
o'clock, the Duke of Wellington's army is to be reviewed. We shall be 
about 65,000, and it will take up nearly the whole day marching past. We 
shall not be able to show such fine men as these Emperors and Kings have, 
but yesterday, as the Prussians etc. were marching by, Lord Wellington said 
to Lady Kinnaird, ' On Monday I will show you some men that will lick 
those fellows.' 

" The remains of the French army, under Davoust, have not as yet made 
submission, they say they will acknowledge the king if he will retain them 
as an army ; but the king says they shall be disbanded, and they are at issue 
on that point. I think probably the end of it will be that we shall send 
some troops against them, and give them a good licking : that army will 
never have the king. It is a curious fact, that during his short reign before 
Boney came back, the soldiers, in telling off from the right, never mentioned 
the number eighteen, but said, ' dixsept, gros cochon, dixneuf,' and so on ; 
and whatever man it fell to to be 18, he was the butt for the day; that 
shows how little they cared for him, and he now ought to hang every 
twentieth man by lot, and then, such slaves are these rascals, that he would 
be very much respected, and thought a very good king." 

"Paris, 28th July 1815. 

"... I have put off writing from day to day, in hopes of being able to 

say something about leave. Yesterday I was ordered to send in my reasons 

in writing, so I went this morning to Barnes, the Adjutant-general, and 

told him that my reason was not one that could well be sent upon jjaper, 


but I would be much obliged to him to tell the Duke that I had been mar- 
ried a fortnight, and I wished to go home to bring you out here. I am to 
have my final answer to-morrow, and I shall then either write you how to 
proceed, or shall forthwith proceed to England, as the case may be. 

" We expect that the army will shortly move into Normandy, as we begin 
to be short of forage for the cavalry, but they say the first division is to 
remain in Paris, or near it ; however, if I get my leave, that will make no 
difference to us. Hughes, I told you in one of my letters, has turned up, and 
he is now quite well again, and the horses consequently begin to show the 

Here the letters end, for Lord Saltoun immediately afterwards obtained 
the leave he requested upon so reasonable a plea, and proceeded to England, 
from which country he soon returned, accompanied by his wife, and, except- 
ing temporary leave of absence in each year, served in France with the 
army of occupation until November 1818, being quartered with his battalion 
at Cambray from 16th February 1816 to that period, during which time his 
mother, the Dowager Lady Saltoun, with his sisters Eleanor and Margaret, 
joined him, and resided for some time with him, and he also received flying 
visits from his brother William, who was a partner in a West Indian mercan- 
tile house in the city of London. 

An anecdote, related to the writer by Lord Saltoun, of a circumstance 
which occurred during this period, although not part of his own history, is 
yet worth insertion, as affording a characteristic trait of " the Duke," as all 
his old soldiers loved to style His Grace of Wellington, par excellence. 

" There was a good deal of heartburning and jealousy amongst the dis- 
banded officers of the old French army, and many of them sought to revenge 
their ill success in the war by insulting British officers, and forcing them to 
fight duels, in which, from the more practical swordmanship of the French- 
men, they were often severely wounded, and in one or two instances killed 
outright. A very stringent order was therefore issued from headquarters 
against duels and brawls of all sorts, and a court-martial was threatened 
against any officer inculpated in an affair of the kind. It so happened that 
a young officer was one night returning home to his quarters, when he was 


attacked by two men armed with swords. Being in uniform, and having his 
sword by his side, he defended himself with such success, that he speedily 
killed one of his assailants, and severely wounded the other. The noise of 
the combat brought up the watch, when it was found that they were 
two disbanded French officers ; the affair became public, he was put under 
arrest, and the whole matter reported to headquarters. The poor young- 
fellow was very anxious about the result ; if he had been brought to a court- 
martial, it would have been difficult for him to prove that he acted only in 
self defence, for the wounded man refused to give any evidence ; and as I 
knew the officer who was Adjutant-general to our portion of the forces very 
well, I tried to learn the decision of the Duke in the matter as soon as 
possible, in order to ease his mind. At length it arrived ; the Duke, taking 
the common-sense view that one man would not be the assailant of two, and 
rightly interpreting the refusal of the wounded man to give evidence, ordered 
the young officer's release from arrest, and said, 'I only wish that every 
officer in the army would constantly wear his sword when in uniform'' (which 
too many neglected to do), ' and upon just occasion use it as boldly and skil- 
fully as this young gentleman appears to have done.'" 

Upon the return of the battalion to England in 1818, Lord Saltoun was 
enabled to enjoy for a more lengthened period the blessings of peace and 
tranquillity ; which for many years had fallen to the lot of himself and his 
brave fellow- soldiers only at rare and long distant intervals ; and to occupy 
and adorn the position in which Providence had placed him ; and in which 
the frankness of his manner, and the integrity of his conduct, together with 
his unfailing generosity and goodness of heart, gained the love and respect of 
all who knew him. 

As his military duties required much of his time to be passed in London, 
he fixed his residence there, at No. 1 Great Cumberland Street, which house 
he retained until his death ; but the periods of leave of absence were gene- 
rally spent in Scotland, where he rented for many years the extensive 
grouse moors of Coignafearn, in the heart of the Monadhliadh Mountains, 
in Inverness-shire. His house of Philorth also welcomed many a joyous 
assemblage of his friends, and his ancestral lands were the scene of many a 
cheerful shooting party. Salmon-fishing and fox-hunting were also among 


his recreations; bringing to the pursuit of every sport the same energy that 
he had evinced in the more serious game of war, he excelled in each and 
all, and amply justified the predictions of the old gamekeeper at Kinrara, 
mentioned in his brother Simon's letter to their mother, years before. 

Nor was he neglectful of more intellectual pursuits. Fond of reading, 
well informed, and well versed in the literature of the day, he was an accom- 
plished and agreeable member of society ; but, above all, his chief delight 
was in music. He was a constant patron of the Opera, and a member of the 
Madrigal Society, the Catch Club, and other festive and musical reunions ; 
and he also belonged to the once famous, but now extinct, Beefsteak Club. 1 

While in Spain he had learned to play on the guitar, and at his house in 
Great Cumberland Street many of the best public performers, both vocal and 
instrumental, frequently attended, and assisted in the afternoon concerts 
which he gave, in which he always took a part with his guitar, though its 
notes were often altogether lost amid those of the more powerful instruments. 

But music with him was a passion, and on one of these occasions a lady, 
somewhat maliciously, saying to him, " Lord Saltoun, I can't hear your guitar 
at all," he replied, " Oh ! that doesn't matter ; I hear it myself, and that 's 
enough for my pleasure." 

He was also a member of the Scottish Hospital of London, the Highland 
and Agricultural Society, and the Caledonian Asylum ; and his hand was 
always open to assist any really charitable institution. 

The above general description applies to his whole life, after the termi- 
nation of the great war, for except when broken into, as hereafter related, by 
the calls of duty, which he never neglected, such was the tenour of an 
existence, always energetic and active, whether in the more serious work of 
life, or in recreation and amvisement. 

Shortly after the return of the Grenadier Guards from France, an amusing 
incident occurred, which is worth recording as an illustration of the eccentri- 
cities of soldiers, and which is here given as related by Lord Saltoun. 

1 On the dissolution of the Beefsteak Club now at Philorth. It is a plain oak chair 

in 1S69, the writer of these memoirs purchased bearing his crest, coronet, and cypher, S, with 

the chair used by Lord Saltoun at the meet- the famous gridiron of the club, and around 

iugs of that celebrated community, and it is them the motto, " Beef and Liberty." 


" There used to be a sentry placed at Storey's Gate, between Birdcage 
Walk and Great George Street, Westminster. 

" About noon, on a hot summer's day, the sentry then on that post saw a 
round-about, ruddy little man carefully examining his sentry-box, and, 
though it was against orders, entered into conversation with him, which 
turned on the merits of the said article. 

" ' Lord bless me ! ' said the little man, ' 1 never saw anything so nice and 
convenient. When I'm at home I lives out to the east, and has a little 
garden right down to the river, and I 'm blowed if I don't have one like it 
made, and put a seat in it, and then when work 's done, I can sit of evenings 
and smoke my pipe in it, and look at the ships going by.' ' Why,' said the 
sentry, ' why should you go to the expense of having a new one made, which 
will cost you a matter of three or four pounds, when you can have this one 
for a guinea.' ' How can I have this one V exclaimed the little man. ' Why, 
what day is this?' 'It's his gracious Majesty's birthday, God bless him! 
to be sure, and that 's the reason I 'm out for a holiday.' ' Well, that 's just it ' 
(taking a confidential tone). ' We soldiers is treated very hard, you see ; but 
we has our privileges, and one is that we has new sentry-boxes every year, 
and they are changed every king's birthday, and the man that 's on sentry in 
them at the end of that day has a right to sell the old one. Now, what 
o'clock is it?' 

" ' Close upon twelve o'clock,' says the little man. ' That 's it ! and I shall 
be on sentry here again to-night at twelve o'clock, so it 's my right to sell the 
box ; now it 's your's for a guinea ; say done !' 

" ' Done !' said the little fellow, and paid his guinea ; ' but how am I to 
get it away ?' 

" ' I '11 tell you all that. You see, there 's a rule that the old boxes stand 
till noon the next day, and that then they may be taken away ; but if they 
are not taken away before twelve that night they go on for another year, and 
the Government is so shocking mean and stingy that they always runs the 
chance of our not selling them, and won't put another down till the first is 
gone ; but I 'm up to their tricks, and ain't going to be done by them. So you 
just be here any time after twelve to-morrow with a cart and ropes and carry 
it off. No one will stop you, and there '11 be a new one put down directly.' 


" So they parted good friends, on this understanding ; and about one 
o'clock the next day the little man came with a horse and cart, and a friend 
or two to help him, and without ceremony began to lay violent hands upon the 
sentry-box, and to pull it down, in order to put it on the cart. A consider- 
able row was the result of these high-handed proceedings, which ended in the 
dispersion of the little man's friends at the point of the bayonet, and his own 
capture by the sentry then on duty at the post, by whom he was penned up 
in his much-coveted sentry-box, while the guard was alarmed, and a party 
being sent from it, he was brought in a prisoner. I happened to be there at 
the time, and he came before me, and on being questioned unfolded his 
pitiful tale of how he had been duped and done by the unscrupulous sentry 
of the day before. 

" None of those present could refrain from shouts of laughter as he went 
on ; but I soon got the guard report, and seeing in it who was the sentry on 
that post at twelve o'clock, ordered him to be sent for from the barracks. 

" In a short time he arrived, and was brought in to answer the charge. 
When the complainant had again told his story, ' Now,' I asked, ' what have 
you got to say in answer to this ? ' ' Well, my Lord,' he replied, ' I 'm very 
sorry ; but, first of all, I 'm willing to give him back his guinea — there it is,' 
laying it on the table. ' Thank God I hadn't time to spend it ! and, my 
Lord, you knows me ; I haven't been a bad soldier ; you 've seen me in Spain 
and at Waterloo, and I hope you'll look over it ; but — he was such a d — d 
fool I couldn't help it !' 

" The last plea was acknowledged in all our hearts to be a valid one, and 
with a good wigging he got off ; but I really believe he would have con- 
sidered it a tempting of Providence had he failed to use the opportunity 
which meeting such an inconceivable idiot threw in his way." 1 

Lord Saltoun became a major in the Guards, and full colonel in the army, 
on the 17th of November 1825, and succeeded to the command of the third 
battalion of his regiment, which he held until the 12th of February, when, 

1 Some years ago the writer met the late James said that he recollected the circum- 

General Sir James Simpson at a friend's house stance well, as at that time he was adjutant, 

in Norfolk, and happening to tell the above and was present, and that the name of the 

story of the man selling his sentry-box, Sir sentry was " Stephen Gagin." 



in consequence of certain changes and promotions, he became senior major, 
and was transferred to the first battalion, which he continued to command 
while he remained in the regiment. 

In February 1826, when marching into the barracks at Windsor, a very 
severe accident befell him. He was mounted upon a young and spirited 
horse, which, on passing through the gate, was so startled by the guard pre- 
senting arms, that it plunged violently, and slipping on the causeway, fell 
upon its side, crushing its rider's right leg between its body and the curb- 
stone of the foot-pavement. 

The fracture was very serious ; the bones were broken in five places 
between the knee and the ankle, but they were set, and for eight weeks Lord 
Saltoun was confined to his room. At the expiry of this period he drove as 
far as the long walk in Windsor Park, and there tried how he could use the 
limb ; after a while, however, feeling much pain, he returned home and sent 
for the best advice from London. On the arrival of the surgeons summoned, 
a consultation was held, at which it was decided to rebreak the leg, and 
set it anew, which was done, and he was condemned to a further im- 
prisonment in his room of nine weeks' duration, when he was well enough 
to return to London, though for several weeks longer he was obliged to 
use crutches, and a slight shortening of the leg ensued, which however only 
caused him to limp a little when tired in walking, but was not otherwise 

It is only right to mention here with proper gratitude the kindness of 
His Majesty George iv. to Lord Saltoun upon this occasion. 

Not content with frequently sending to inquire how he was going on, 
the King interested himself in his comfort, and presented him with a table 
and reading-desk of then novel construction, adapted for a sick-bed, which 
His Majesty had himself used when suffering from illness. 

In July of the same year Lord Saltoun went to Scotland, but on the 
journey thither a severe domestic affliction overtook him. 

Lady Saltoun was suddenly attacked by illness at Bramby Moor Inn, in 
Leicestershire, and after short but severe suffering, died there upon the 9th 
of that month, their married life having lasted little above eleven years. 
Her remains were conveyed to Edinburgh, and interred in Holyrood Chapel, 


from whence in the year 1853 they were removed, and laid beside those of 
her husband in the mausoleum at Fraserburgh. 

Lord Saltoun had been elected one of the Representative Peers of Scot- 
land in 1812, and was from time to time re-elected during the remainder of 
his life. He however did not take any prominent part in the debates of the 
House of Lords, but contented himself with giving a consistent support to 
the Tory, or, as it is now called, Conservative party, to which he belonged. 
On the 4th of February 1830 he seconded the address in reply to the speech 
from the throne at the opening of Parliament, and his speech on that occasion, 
as reported in the pages of Hansard, shows that he had brought his sound 
common sense and good judgment to the consideration of the questions in 
agitation at that time ; but action was far more to his taste than speaking, 
and with the exception of a few words now and then upon any question 
which particularly interested him, he did not take much share in Parlia- 
mentary debates. 

In 1831, shortly after the accession of William iv., the Whig party, which 
was then in office, brought in the Eeform Bill, which passed through the 
House of Commons, but was thrown out in the House of Lords by a majority 
of forty-one, among whom was Lord Saltoun ; and in the succeeding year, 
when it was again brought in, and passed the House of Lords by a majority 
of nine, he was one of the minority who voted against it, and was also one of 
the seventy-three Peers who subscribed the protest against the passing of the 
Bill, that was entered on the journals of the House by the Duke of Wellington. 

He also voted against the Bill to abolish subscription to the Thirty-nine 
Articles as a preliminary to admission into the Universities ; against that 
for the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, being one of the eighty-nine Peers 
who signed the protest against the third reading; and in 1848 against the 
repeal of the Jewish Disabilities ; but this short notice is all that is necessary 
of his conduct as a member of the Legislature, and shows him to have 
adhered to the political views of his party. 

The course of promotion in the army advanced him to the rank of major- 
general on the 10th January 1837, and this put an end to his connection 
with the gallant regiment in which he had seen so much service, and which 
he never ceased to regard with pride and affection. 

2 o 


A few years later he was once more summoned to active service. War 
with China had been going on for a year or two, and a considerable force had 
been sent from India under the command of Sir Hugh Gough, afterwards 
Viscount Gough. In 1841 it was determined that reinforcements, under a 
major-general, should proceed from England to join him. Lord Saltoun was 
selected for this duty, and the following letters passed between Lord Hill, 
then commanding-in-chief, and him : — 

Horse Guards, 3d November 1841. 
My dear Saltoun, — The Government having called upon me to nomi- 
nate a major-general for service in China, to act of course under Lt.-General 
Sir Hugh Gough, who is in command of the expedition, I have considered 
that I could not do better than select you for that duty, and I shall be happy 
to nominate you for it, if it be agreeable to you, as soon as I receive your 
answer to this letter. 

Believe me to be, 

My dear Saltoun, very faithfully yours, 

Major-General The Lord Saltoun, G.C.H., etc. etc. etc. 

Nesbit House, Dunse, 5th November 1841. 
My dear Lord Hill, — I have just received your Lordship's letter. 
I shall be happy to serve on any active service which your Lordship may 
nominate me for ; but, if I might be permitted, I should like to make a 
stipulation on this occasion, which is that, the service being concluded, I am 
not to be considered as belonging to the army in India, but to be permitted 
to return home, as I have no wish to carry on the ordinary duties of colonial 

I remain, 

Dear Lord Hill, yours very sincerely, 

General the Lord Hill, etc. etc. etc. 

P.S. — I shall be in London on Monday or Tuesday, when I hope to see 
your Lordship, at your usual hour, at the Horse Guards. 


Having accepted the duty for which he had thus heen chosen, Lord 
Saltoun had but a short time in which to make preparation for a lengthened 
absence from home, as the reinforcements were ordered to sail with as little 
loss of time as possible ; and one of the arrangements most important to his 
comfort was to secure the services of a faithful valet and a trustworthy 

The conduct at this time of the two servants who accompanied him in 
these situations deserves mention, as an evidence of their feeling towards 
their master. 

The valet, Thomas Phillips, had been a private in the Grenadier Guards, 
and his valet for many years, having remained in that situation after obtain- 
ing his discharge from the army. A short time previously, however, he had 
married, and quitting service, had set up a small shop ; but on hearing that 
his old master was again going on foreign service, he at once said, " It is 
impossible that my Lord can do without me," and offered to give up his busi- 
ness and return to his valet's situation, which offer was gladly accepted. The 
groom, a man of the name of Shean, had also been a Guardsman, and was still 
in the service of Lord Saltoun, who at first did not think of taking him abroad, 
imagining that he would not like to go ; but on sending for him, and saying, 
" Well, Shean, you know I am going to China," the reply was, " Yes, my 
Lord, I hear we've got the route, so when are we to march ?" Both these 
faithful servants returned home with Lord Saltoun, and remained in his ser- 
vice until his death. 

The reinforcements under his command sailed from Plymouth on the 
29th of December 1841, in H.M.S. Belle-isle, Captain Kingcombe, and the 
Sapphire and Apollo troop-ships ; the headquarters' staff, the 98th regiment, 
commanded by the well-known Colin Campbell, afterwards so renowned as 
Lord Clyde, and some artillery, being on board the Belle-isle. 

Lord Saltoun had selected Lieutenant-Colonel Hope Grant (the late 
General Sir Hope Grant, K.C.B.) for his brigade-major, and Captain 
Cunynghame (now Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Cunynghame, K.C.B.) for 
his first aide-de-camp, the rules of the service requiring that his second 
aide-de-camp should be taken from some regiment serving in the country to 
which he was going. 


1 They had a favourable but somewhat tedious voyage, passing the island 
of Madeira on the 28th, and reaching Teneriffe on the 30th of December; 
after replenishing the supply of water, they sailed again for Bio Janeiro on 
the 1st of January 1842. They crossed the line on the 17th of that month, 
and had the usual visit from Neptune, productive, as is customary, of much 
fun and some roughish horse-play ; and without further incident, except the 
loss of a man of the 98th regiment, who jumped overboard on the 19th, 
arrived at Eio Janeiro on the 3d of February, where they remained until the 
8th, when they again sailed, and anchored in Simon's Bay, at the Cape of 
Good Hope, on the 1 4th of March. 

During the passage from Eio to the Cape, Mr. Craven, an officer in the 
navy, son of Mr. Fuller Craven, was lost, having fallen overboard from the 
Apollo during his watch. He did not belong to that vessel, but was a 
passenger going out to join his ship in China, and, as is often the case, had 
taken part in carrying on the duty of the vessel in which he was for the time. 

Lord Saltoun and his staff having bought three horses at the Cape, and 
passed a few days there, the ships sailed again on the 2 2d March, but in a 
gale on the 24th and 25th, the Belle-isle lost sight of both her consorts, 
and proceeded on her way to Singapore, which place she reached on the 13th 
of May, without having again seen them. 

On the 17th, just as the Belle-isle was weighing anchor, the two missing- 
ships came in sight, but leaving them to follow, she sailed for Hong-Kong, 
where she arrived on the 2d of June. 

At Hong-Kong Lord Saltoun had an interview with Sir Henry Pottinger, 
of whom he appears to have formed a favourable opinion, and whom he 
characterises in a letter as " a quiet, sensible, strong-minded man, quite used 
to the business he has to transact." 

In the same letter Lord Saltoun gives a very graphic sketch of the state 
of affairs at that time ; he says, " It is impossible to say what effect this 
great display of force we are making may have when it comes to be known 
by the great Emperor, but as yet nothing whatever has been clone in coming 
to a settlement, and in point of fact things are exactly in the same state they 

1 The account of his stay abroad is extracted numerous letters from him to various friends 
from a journal kejit by Lord SaltouD, and and relatives. 


were in when he (Sir H. Pottinger) came here. When we get up, which I 
suppose we shall do in ten days from this, Sir H. Gough will have an efficient 
force of from 8000 to 10,000 men, at least they say so here. Now whether 
he has the head to seize such a position, and maintain himself in it, as will 
really be felt by the said great man, remains to be proved. As yet anything 
that has been done has been a sort of marauding warfare, taking a town one 
day and giving it up the next, and so forth ; but that is not the way to con- 
quer a great and obstinate people. We must take and hold such a position 
as, by cutting their resources off, will be felt by those at the head of the 
Government. Such a position is to be found (I think) in the Yan-tze-Kan 
river, and we are certainly going there in the first instance." 

While at Hong-Kong they heard the news of the conflict with the 
Manchu Tartars, after the capture of the town of Chapoo, and of Colonel 
Tomlinson and twenty men having been killed, and seventy wounded, before 
the enemy were defeated. 

On the 7th June the Belle-isle left Hong-Kong (the Apollo and Sapphire, 
which had come in there two days after her, followed on the 8th) for Chusan, 
where she arrived on the 17th, and on reaching that place Lord Saltoun found 
a letter from Sir Hugh Gough, who was then in the Yang-tse-kiang river, 
telling him of his plans, and requesting him to join him there as soon as 
possible ; and, accordingly, on the evening of the same day, the Belle-isle was 
again under weigh, attended by the Venus steamer, and on the morning of 
the 19th anchored at Amherst rocks, near the mouth of the Yang-tse-kiang, 
which she entered on the 21st, and Lord Saltoun, with the first instalment of 
the troops he had brought from England, joined the army, just six months 
and one day after sailing from Plymouth. 

Two days before his arrival the small town of Woosung, and that of 
Shanghai, further up the river, had been taken, and he gives in a letter an 
amusing account of some of these operations, and also his idea of what it 
would be requisite to do. He says, " After taking this place, Woosung, the 
ships went up the river to Shanghai, with half the troops, the other half, with 
four guns, marched, and a very severe march it was. They (the Chinese) 
had a battery of fifty guns about four miles below the town, which they fired 
as the ships passed, and immediately ran away. The marching column 


found no resistance, but when our force was about four miles from the town 
it was abandoned by the authorities and better classes, and forthwith pillaged 
by the lower orders, and pretty regularly sacked before the troops reached it. 
This seems to be the regular practice, and these wags always begin by plun- 
dering the pawnbrokers' shops, on the principle, I suppose, of getting their 
own things back first of all. . . . This sort of passive resistance is the most 
extraordinary way of making war that ever was, and no one can guess when 
it will end. Since Sir H. Pottinger came out last year we have taken Amoy, 
Ghusan, Chinghai, the town of Ningpo, where they wintered, and were 
abundantly supplied with everything. This summer we have taken Chapoo, 
and where we are now, and yet no sort of communication has taken place 
between him and any Chinese person in authority. The only thing is that, 
after we have taken any of these places, an order comes out in the Pekin 
Gazette, ordering the general and his army to drive the red-headed barbarians 
into the sea, which they obey by giving up the next place attacked, without 
hardly firing a shot for it. . . . We have still about 2500 men to come up, 
and I conclude we shall stay here till they join us. In the meantime the 
surveyors are examining the river Yan-tze-Kan, which, in my opinion, we must 
go up, and establish ourselves in some position, which will bring those 
matters to a climax, or at all events give us entire military possession of all 
the south and richest part of China, and having by so doing cut off their 
means of sending their effects to the north, we can levy contributions at our 

The plan thus roughly sketched was that decided upon, and when all the 
troops had arrived, the force was divided into three brigades, of which the 
right brigade, numbering about 2200 men, and comprising the 26th and 98th 
British Eegiments, the Bengal Volunteers, and the flank companies of the 
41st Madras Native Infantry, was placed under Lord Saltoun's immediate 

The expedition then proceeded up the river Yang-tse-kiang in five divi- 
sions, and in the following order of sailing : — 

1st. Sir Henry Pottinger and Sir Hugh Gough, with the Headquarters, 
Engineers, and Sappers, under charge of the Admiral Sir Wm. Parker's flag- 
ship, the Cornwallis. 


2d. Lord Saltoun's brigade, in eleven vessels, under charge of H.M.S. 

3d. General Schoedde's Brigade, under charge of H.M.S. Blonde. 

4th. General Bartley's Brigade, under charge of H.M.S. Endymion. 

5th. The Artillery, with the powder ships, under the command of Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Montgomery, Madras Artillery, together with the stores, etc., 
of which division H.M.S. Dido had the charge. 

They sailed on the 6th July, with the intention of reaching the point 
where the Yang-tse-kiang is cut by the great canal, and on the 19th and 
20th arrived before the town of Chin-kiang-foo, situated at that spot, which 
they found strongly fortified and full of Chinese and Tartar troops, of which 
latter there was also a large camp, at a short distance from the town. 

Orders were issued for the army to land on the following morning, the 
21st, at four o'clock, and Lord Saltoun received instructions from Sir Hugh 
Gough to attack the Tartar camp with his brigade, while the remainder of 
the forces were to assault the town. 

After a toilsome march of some miles, over a difficult and marshy 
country, Lord Saltoun found the enemy posted in a very strong position on a 
rising ground, with a marshy bottom in front, their right covered by some 
houses, and their left occupying, in considerable numbers, a high hill, which 
inclined round, so as to completely outflank the right of any force attacking 
the centre. 

On the British troops arriving within 700 yards, the Tartars opened a 
heavy fire from their jingalls, firing in salvos, and shouting and roaring after 
each discharge ; but their fire did no execution, and Lord Saltoun, detaching 
two companies of the Bengal Volunteers against their right flank, and two 
other companies of the same corps against their left flank on the hill, advanced 
with the 98th regiment, two companies of the Madras Native Infantry, and 
three three-pounder guns, until about 300 yards from the main body, when 
he sent the light company of the 98th, supported by the remainder of that 
regiment, and the two companies of the 41st Madras Native Infantry, against 
the centre, covering their advance by the fire of the guns. 

The battle was neither long nor severely contested, and to the old soldier 
of the Peninsula and "Waterloo, must have offered a great contrast to former 


stern encounters. In a letter he says, "They stood a few shots from the 
flank parties, but before the guns had fired six rounds, and long before we got 
within reach of them, they broke and dispersed in the greatest confusion, and 
scampered away over the hills in their rear, and we saw no more of them, 
having only three men of the Bengal Volunteers wounded ; but the sun was 
the worst enemy, for thirteen men out of the 98th died on the ground, from 
the heat." 

While the brigade under Lord Saltoun's command had been achieving this 
decisive, though easy, victory, the remainder of the army had attacked and 
taken the town of Chin-kiang-foo, though not without some loss, several 
officers, and about 150 men having been killed or wounded. The whole of 
the operations were, however, successful, and Chin-kiang-foo, said to be one 
of the strongest places in China, was in the hands of the British. 

The troops re-embarked on the 29th of July, leaving General Schoedde's 
brigade to hold possession of Chin-kiang-foo, and on the 3d August the expe- 
dition sailed for Nankin, where it arrived on the 5th and two following days, 
a.nd the forces were landed for the purpose of investing that city ; but nego- 
tiations having been opened between Sir Henry Pottinger and the Chinese 
commissioner, Elipoo, a suspension of hostdities was agreed to, and, after 
some delays, peace was finally concluded, and a treaty signed on board the 
admiral's ship, upon the 29th of the same month. 

The object for which the expedition had been undertaken was thus 
happily accomplished, and its retirement from the Yang-tse-kiang river 
commenced in the early part of September, not one instant too soon, for 
disease of the most fatal description had broken out among the troops, and 
especially in the 98th regiment, which was almost entirely destroyed by its 

Upon the retirement of the expedition from the river, Sir Hugh Gough, 
according to his instructions, prepared to return to India with part of the 
forces, leaving Lord Saltoun in command of the army of occupation, which 
was to hold certain posts, until the stipulations of the treaty were fulfilled ; 
and the island of Hong-Kong being the appointed headquarters of that army, 
he arrived there on the 29th of October, and assumed the command on the 
departure of Sir Hugh Gough, upon the 20th December. 


A good description of the state of military affairs on the island is given 
in a report from Lord Saltoun to the Duke of Wellington, which was written 
in January of the succeeding year, 1843. 1 

" I conclude that your Grace has received a report from Lt.-general Sir 
Hugh Gough on his leaving this place to return to India. 

" On the 20th of last month Sir Hugh Gough sailed from this place, 
leaving me in command of the troops left for the occupation of certain parts 
of this country ; hut as Sir Hugh Gough left me no sort of instructions as to 
what authority I was to report to, 1 having been sent from England to this 
country, have the honour of reporting direct to your Grace, sending a copy 
of the same to H.E. the Commander-in-chief of India. 

" In the margin I send your Grace the strength and distribution of the 
troops left for this service, and although the force is not large, I believe it to 
be sufficient for the purposes intended. 

" This island, Hong-Kong, is composed of a succession of high steep 
mountains, having narrow spurs running out towards the sea- side, and small 
vallies between them ; and there is no place whatever on this, the town side 
of the island at least (and I believe the whole island to be of the same 
character), that is at all favourable for a fortified place, all these spurs being 
commanded by the high hill behind them, and more or less by each other. 

" One place exists where a very fair place d'armes might be made, and it 
would also have been a very favourable situation for barracks, hospital, etc., hut 
unfortunately, from the manner in which land was originally granted here, it 
has become the property of individuals, who are building their houses upon it. 

" There are other points where a place d'armes might be constructed, but 
in my humble opinion the expense of doing so would be greater than any 
advantage gained from it would warrant. 

" The principal inconvenience that we suffer from at present is want of 
cover of any kind for the troops, and also for the immense quantity of com- 
missariat stores which have been landed here, and which are placed in mat 
buildings, and, consequently, very much exposed to danger arising from fire. 

" I have proposed to H.E. the Plenipotentiary, who in his capacity of 
Chief Commissioner of trade is Governor here, to hire godowns for these 

1 From copy retained by Lord Saltouu. 
2 P 


commissariat stores, until buildings can be erected for them, and I have sent 
in plans and estimates of the said buildings. 

" We have a temporary barrack here, called Cantonment Hill, originally 
constructed partly for European and partly for Native troops ; in this I 
have placed the Eoyal Artillery, the Gun Lascars, the Sappers and Miners, 
and the hospital for the troops. 

" We have barracks for Native troops, in which, by adding some buildings, 
I can put up the wing of the 41st Madras Native Infantry. 

" At West Point, a place about a mile from the end of the town, there is 
a temporary barrack for about 250 men, with an hospital; part of H.M. 55th 
Eegiment occupy this, the rest of them are on the other side of the island, 
at a place called Chuck Choo, and some recruits that have just arrived for 
this regiment remain on board. 

" The place built for the General Hospital, capable of holding twenty men, 
is at present occupied by the sick of the 98th, and the rest of that regiment 
remains on board the Belle-isle, but as another barrack at Chuck Choo will 
shortly be completed, it will then be able to hold 300 men, and it is my inten- 
tion to land the 98th Eegiment and put them into these quarters, principally on 
account of the sickly state in which they have been on board ; and the 55th, 
whom they will relieve at Chuck Choo, must go on board when they return here. 

" Under these circumstances I have sent in to H.E. the Plenipotentiary 
plans and estimates for two permanent barracks, one to be built here for 
400 men, and the other at Chuck Choo, which is stated to be the most 
healthy part of the island, for 600 men; these barracks to be built on a 
plan, that they may be added to when the temporary barracks decay, in the 
event of its being advisable to keep here a larger force than 1000 infantry. 

" The magazine is now finished, and the powder placed in it ; a large 
quantity of powder must, however, still remain on board, as the magazine is 
a very small one. 

" I am happy to be able to report to your Grace that since the wet 
weather set in, the health of the troops has very much improved, and I trust 
in future they will not be more sickly than is usual in tropical climates ; and 
also, that I have every reason to be satisfied with the good and orderly con- 
duct of the men and officers of this Garrison. 


" I have received a report from Major-General Schoedde, commanding at 
Chusan, equally satisfactory on the score of the health of the troops, and 
stating that in a very few days all the barracks at that place will be completed. 
" I have received a report from Major Cooper, 12th Eegiment, command- 
ing at ... in which he states that the fever and ague still continue amongst 
the troops, but that it is of a milder character." 

The above report gives some idea of the deficiency in provision for the 
accommodation of the army of occupation at Hong-Kong, and the following 
memorandum, addressed by Lord Saltoun at a prior date to Sir Henry 
Pottinger, the Plenipotentiary, respecting the arrangements necessary at 
Chusan, only a portion of what was to be his command, will further illustrate 
the multiplicity of subjects that claimed his attention and occupied his time. 
1 " Memoranda for his Excellency Sir H. Pottinger regarding the force 
to be left at Chusan. 

" 1st. Provisions for the troops. 

" 1. How are they to be supplied? 

" 2. In the event of a short supply, or none at all, what steps are to 
be taken by the officer commanding ? 
" 2d. Administration of justice. 

" 1. How are disputes to be settled that may take place between the 

troops and the inhabitants ? 
" 2. How are evil-disposed English or other Europeans, who may 
come here in other ships, and consecpiently are not followers of 
the army, to be dealt with ? 
" 3d. Quartering of the troops. 

" 1. How are the houses proper for this purpose to be taken? and in 
the event of the owners or inhabitants objecting to give them up 
without remuneration, through what authorities is this question 
to be settled ? 
" ith. Steam communication should be placed at the disposal of the 
Military Officer, for the purpose of sending urgent despatches. 
" I suspect this can only be ordered by the authority of your Ex- 

1 From copy retained by Lord Saltoun. 


" 5th. The Commissary should be authorised to issue fuel, not only for 

cooking, but also for warmth, as the cold weather comes on. 

" It would be advisable that warm clothing should be issued to the 
Native Troops, if any of this force are kept on that station. 
" 6th. If any Eevenue is to be collected, either by, or on account of China, 

your Excellency will see the necessity of that being put on a 

proper footing. 
" 7th. A competent Interpreter must also be left to assist the Officer in 

" 8th. It would be highly advisable that some ponies should be sent to 

Chusan, to form a mounted Police, similar to what Major-General 

Schoedde has organised at Chin Kan foo, as some such force will be 

absolutely required at Chusan. 

" Saltoun, M.-Gen 1 ." 

Lord Saltoun, after the active operations were over, lost no time in remind- 
ing the authorities at home of the promise that he should be recalled as 
soon as possible after their termination, but the exigencies of the service did 
not allow of the appointment of a successor to him at once, and for a year he 
was obliged to retain his command, during which time he vigorously exerted 
himself in getting affairs into better order, and in taking measures for com- 
bating the sickness which still to a great extent prevailed amongst the 
troops, in which he was to a considerable degree successful ; but in the 
month of March 1843 his labours suffered a temporary interruption, in con- 
sequence of a severe accident which befell him, and which is thus described 
by himself : — 

" 1th April. — On Wednesday the 29th the pony Euskin ran away with 
me, just as I mounted, at the top of the hill on which the house stands. 
He left the road, and ran for the precipice. I turned him, and got him back 
to the road, and just as we got there, he gave a short turn, I lost my seat, 
and he kicked me over his head ; a heavy fall clown hill. I broke a rib, 
which is doing well, but the bruises are not yet quite well ; nor are they 
certain whether the collar-bone is broke or not." 

It turned out that not only was the collar-bone broken, but the shoulder- 


blade was split, and the utmost quiet was necessary for a time, to enable the 
fractured parts to unite properly ; but notwithstanding these severe injuries, 
the natural strength of his constitution, and the good courage and cheerful 
temper that he always brought to bear against every accident or misfortune, 
assisted his recovery, and by the middle or end of May he was again able to 
resume his ordinary mode of life. 

In the beginning of June he had the gratification of receiving the notifi- 
cation of the thanks of Parliament, which, on the 14th of February, had been 
moved in the House of Lords by the Duke of Wellington, and in the House 
of Commons by Lord Stanley (the late Earl of Derby), and unanimously 
voted by both Houses to the army and navy employed in the expedition, and 
to the general officers and the admiral by name. 

On the 26th June he was present at the exchange of the ratified treaties 
between Sir Henry Pottinger and the Chinese chief commissioner, Key Ing, 
and his colleagues, which ceremony took place at the Government House, 
Macao, and was attended with much festivity, the Chinese commissioners, 
Key Ing, Hayling, and "Whang, dining with the Plenipotentiary, and proving 
themselves boon companions when off duty. 

Lord Saltoun received, on the 4th August, the medal presented to the 
Knights of the Order of Maria Theresa by the Emperor of Austria, on the 
occasion of the Archduke Charles' fiftieth anniversary as Grand Master of 
that Order. He had obtained the knighthood of Maria Theresa of Austria, 
as well as that of St. George of Eussia, at the close of the campaign of 1815. 

In the summer of this year some difference of opinion seems to have 
occurred between Lord Saltoun and Sir Henry Pottinger as to certain 
measures. It is unnecessary to inquire what these ma,y have been, but the 
official correspondence caused some misunderstanding and consequent tem- 
porary interruption of the friendly relations which had hitherto subsisted 
between them, which Lord Saltoun rectified by a manly and straightforward 
letter, of which the following is an extract : — 

" Victoria, Hong-Kong, 
"31 August 1843. 

" My dear Sir Henry, — I wish to put an end to this disagreeable corre- 
spondence. I see no reason why two gentlemen, whose only object was the 


good of their country, should, because they have got into a disagreeable official 
correspondence, make that a reason for a personal disagreement, and I trust 
you are of the same opinion ; for as my stay here is not likely now to be very 
long, I should be sorry, when we meet hereafter in our own country, it should 
be otherwise than as friends. You have taken up, and, by your official letter 
received this morning, still entertain a false impression of my letters, and I 
cannot help it. I cannot have the slightest objection to your sending the 
correspondence home. 

" Except the usual monthly returns, and forwarding, without any remarks 
of my own, General Schoedde's letter to the Duke of Wellington, I have 
never sent a single line home to the Government j 1 indeed, my authority 
here being purely military, nothing has occurred to make this necessary, and 
if they require any explanation of anything I have written to you, I shall be 
as ready to give it to them as I am to yourself." 

To this characteristic letter Sir Henry made a reply, of which an extract 
of the portion bearing on the subject is here given : — 

"Macao, 2 September 1843. 

"My dear Lord Saltoun, — Your very kind note of the 31st August I 
received this morning, and it has given me sincere gratification. 

" I most unfeignedly assure you that the idea of having had any differ- 
ence of opinion or coolness with you has preyed on my mind amidst my late 
severe trials, and that I have several times thought of writing to you, to say 
that, if any one impartial person would declare that I had taken a wrong 
view of your letter, I would acknowledge I had made a mistake, and would 
withdraw my share of the correspondence." 

Thus terminated this slight misunderstanding, in a manner equally 
creditable to both of the eminent men between whom it had occurred. 

In June, Lord Saltoun had made a visit of a week's duration to Amoy 
and Canton ; and upon the 4th December he sailed for Manilla, in the 
Cornwallis, .the flag-ship of the Admiral, who had offered to take him to that 

1 This refers, of course, to non-military ton, on assuming command of the army of 
subjects, his report to the Duke of Welling- occupation, being a purely military one. 


place, where he landed on the 13th December, and remained until the 1st 
January, visiting many parts of those beautiful islands. He returned to 
Hong-Kong in H.M.S. Dido, Captain Hon. Henry (now Admiral Hon. Sir 
Henry) Keppel, arriving on the 7th January, and found, to his great delight, 
that Major- General D'Aguilar had come from England to relieve him. 

Having given over his command to that General, as from the 1st of 
January, he sailed on the 31st for Calcutta, and upon his departure the 
following general order was issued : — 

" General Orders. 

"30th January 1844. 
"Major-General Lord Saltoim, K.C.B. and G.C.H., will embark for 
England on board H.M. Ship Dido to-morrow, at four o'clock. 

" His Lordship carries with him the respect and regret of every branch of 
the troops that have had the honour to serve under his orders ; and the 
Officers of the Garrison, together with the Staff and Heads of Departments, are 
requested to attend at the Commissariat Wharf, to pay to his Lordship their 
last tribute of respect on his departure. 

"A Guard of Honour, consisting of the Grenadiers of the 41st Eegiment 
Madras Native Infantry, will form at the point of embarkation, and a salute 
of eleven guns will be fired on his Lordship entering the boat that carries 
him from Hong-Kong, with the best wishes of his fellow-soldiers for his 
prosperity and welfare. 

" By order, 

" L. M. Edwards, Captain, 
" Ass* Adjt-Gen 1 ." 

On his voyage home Lord Saltoun went as far as Calcutta in H.M.S. Dido, 
arriving there on the 10th February, having touched at Macao and Pulo 
Penang, remained a day or two at the latter place, and having visited the 
Marquis of Tweeddale, then commanding at Madras. On the 15th February 
he went on board the Bentinck steamer, and stopping for a day at the island 
of Ceylon, and at Aden, reached Suez on the 13th April, and -crossed the 
desert to Cairo, where on the 14th he had an interview with Mahomet Pacha, 
who, in the course of a conversation lasting about forty minutes, asked him 


many questions respecting China, and whom he describes as a small but fine 
looking old man. 

After a day spent in a visit to the Pyramids, etc., he left Cairo on the 
1 6th, and passing some days at Alexandria, where he visited the docks, the 
Vice-Admiral Mahomet Bey's flag-ship, and the field of the battle of 1801, at 
which Sir Ealph Abercromby was killed, sailed on the 24th in the P. and 0. 
steamer for England, arrived at the Mother-bank on the 10th of May, and 
after a few days to complete the quarantine, landed at Southampton. 

It need scarcely be said that he received a warm welcome from all his 
numerous friends ; and at the< Waterloo banquet of that year the Duke of 
Wellington proposed his health in the most flattering terms. 

But, perhaps, as warm a reception, and certainly the most curious hi some 
respects, was that which he obtained from the tenantry of his estates, on his 
return to Philorth in the autumn. 

The tenantry resolved to entertain him at a grand dinner in Fraserburgh, 
on the 22d October, and the fishermen of the village of Broadsea, not to be 
behind the others in their demonstrations of affection and respect, determined 
to provide a triumphal car of a novel description for his public entry into the 
town upon that occasion. What this was will be seen from the following 
letter, which is worth insertion : — 

" Seatown of Broadsea, 10 Oct. 1844. 
" To the Eight Honble. Lord Saltoun. 

" My Lord, — The Fishermen on your Lordship's Estate here being anxouse 
to pay all the esteem in their power to your Honour, came to the Besolution, 
if your Lordship should accept of it, to draw you and your friends from your 
seat at Philorth to the entry of the town of Fraserburgh, on the day of the 
dinner to your Lordship from the Farmers, in a Boat mounted on four wheels, 
and acquiped for the purpose ; your Lordship may depend that the utmost 
decorum will be observed, and a slow peass kept, in order to prevent the least 
chance of any accident. 

" I have the honor to be, my Lord, 

" Your Lordship's most obedient servant, 

" James Noble, Preses." 





2 m 


z tn 

< < 







The offer having been accepted in the same spirit that prompted it, the 
whole affair went off most satisfactorily ; the boat, one of those used in the 
herring fishery, was painted white and ornamented with gilding, and dressed 
out with laurels and evergreens, the sternmost portion was handsomely 
carpeted and cushioned, and surrounded with an ornamental railing, and 
there were three masts, bearing numerous flags with appropriate mottoes. 
It was manned by four stalwart oarsmen, who when it moved went through 
the motions of rowing, and being placed on wheels, it was drawn by some 
fifty or sixty fishermen, with shoulder-bands fastened to a rope attached 
to the under carriage. Lord Saltoun and some of his friends, among whom 
was Captain Cunynghame, his aide-de-camp in China, having taken their 
seats, the procession moved off, his Lordship steering the boat, moving the 
tiller, and answering " Starboard it is," or " Port it is," etc., in accordance 
with the orders shouted back through a speaking-trumpet by the master 
mariner, standing at the bow, who conned the vessel at each turn of the road. 
Thus they proceeded from Philorth, escorted by a cheering crowd of some 
two or three thousand people, to a pavilion erected in front of the Saltoun 
Arms Hotel, near the Town Cross of Fraserburgh ; and many gentlemen of 
the neighbourhood having accepted invitations, a large party, numbering 
about 250, sat down to dinner on the occasion of this public expression 
of the good feeling that existed between Lord Saltoun and his tenantry, 
their admiration of his public career, and their esteem and affection for him 
in his more private capacity of their landlord. 

After his return from China, Lord Saltoun resumed the usual tenor of 
his life, passing the Parliamentary season in London, and enjoying the sports 
of flood and field during the recess with as keen a zest as ever. His lease of 
the extensive shootings of Coignafearn, in the Monadhliadh, having come 
to an end about 1846, he did not seek to renew it, finding that ground too 
steep and high for his advancing years, but took a moor near the village of 
Eothes, on the bank of the Spey, where he also rented a considerable extent 
of salmon-fishing. He resided during August and September of each year at 
the beautifully situated shooting-lodge of Auchinroth in that vicinity, and 
towards the end of the latter month paid his annual visit to Philorth, where 
he entertained a party of his friends during October, and then betook him- 

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self to his hunting-quarters, which for some years he shared with his 
brother-in-law, William Macdowall Grant of Arndilly, who had married 
his sister Eleanor. These hunting-quarters had been at Dunse, in Berwick- 
shire, but after his return in 1844, they rented the house of Lees, near 
Coldstream, during the minority of the proprietor of that estate, Sir John 
Marjoribanks, Bart, where they hunted usually with the celebrated pack of 
hounds belonging to Lord Elcho (now the Earl Weinyss), an old and valued 
friend, and occasionally were able to meet the Duke of Buccleuch's pack. 

This arrangement lasted until the death of Mr. Macdowall Grant, which 
occurred from cholera on the 29th of January 1849, and Lord Saltoun, 
after that sad event, gave up the house of Lees, and took a lodging in the 
town of Coldstream, where, however, his residence was scarcely more than 
nominal, as he was, during the hunting season, a constant and welcome 
guest at the hospitable mansion of Ladykirk, about four miles from Cold- 
stream. His frank and open-hearted manner, the kindness of his disposition, 
and the geniality of his conversation and intercourse with all, whether in 
the hunting-field or at the social board, made him a general favourite, 
and many an expression of esteem and affection for him, and of regret 
for his loss, has the writer of this history heard from his associates of those 
days. He invariably left his hunting-quarters for some weeks at the end 
of the year, to eat his Christmas dinner with an old brother officer, Colonel 
Charles Ellis, who had been his subaltern at Quatre-bras and Waterloo, 
and this custom was continued until the death of the latter, after which 
he often passed Christmas with another old brother Guardsman, Colonel 
Samuel Long. 

On the 9th of November 1846, Lord Saltoun attained to the rank of 
Lieutenant-general in the army. He had been appointed, 23d February of 
that year, colonel of the 55th Eegiment, and on the 7th August he had been 
transferred to the colonelcy of the 2d, or Queen's Boyal Eegiment, which very 
considerable advancement was regarded by all as preparatory to his obtain- 
ing the colonelcy of one of the regiments of Foot Guards, had he survived 
until a vacancy occurred in the Household Brigade. 

On the 25th March 1852, Her Majesty was pleased to invest him with 
the Order of the Thistle, the highest of Scottish distinctions, and the follow- 


ing correspondence, so highly honourable to all concerned, conveyed the 
announcement of Her Majesty's gracious intention to him : — 

Lord John Eussell (now Earl Eussell) to Lord Fitzroy Somerset 
(the late Lord Eaglan). 

" Pembroke Lodge, August 13, 1851. 

" My dear Lord Fitzroy, — As you kindly consented to transmit my 
message to Lord Saltoun, I write to tell you what I wish to be said. 

" It is my opinion that the orders of knighthood should not be exclu- 
sively confined to the friends and adherents of the existing ministry, but 
should embrace men of distinguished service in the military and civil depart- 
ments, whatever may be their political opinions. 

" The vacancy in the Order of the Thistle, caused by the death of the late 
Lord Melville, enables me to recommend to the Queen a Knight of that 

" The military services of Lord Saltoun, so long and so distinguished, make 
me desirous of placing his name before the Queen, as deserving of a mark of 
honour, which belongs to the Scotch Peerage. 

" Of course I do not wish to influence in any way his political conduct, 
and I am quite aware that I could not hope for his support. 

" May I beg you to obtain an answer for me. 

" I remain, yours very truly, 

" J. Eussell." 

Lord Fitzroy Somerset to Lord Saltoun. 

"Horse Guards, August 14, 1851. 

" My dear Saltoun, — Happening to meet Lord John Eussell at Bucking- 
ham Palace a week ago, where I attended an investiture of the Bath, he 
asked me whether I should be willing to convey to you the expression of his 
desire to recommend you to the Queen for the Order of the Thistle, as a 
recognition of your distinguished military services, and apart from every 
political consideration. 

" I readily undertook to comply with his request, as soon as I should hear 
from him on the subject, feeling happy to be the channel of a communication 


so honourable to Lord John Russell aDd yourself; and I have now the satis- 
faction to send you a letter I received from him this morning. 

" In this you will observe he states his opinion that the orders of knight- 
hood should not be exclusively confined to the friends and adherents of the 
existing ministry, but should embrace men of distinguished service in the 
military and civil departments of the country, whatever might be their 
political sentiments ; and on these grounds he expresses his desire to lay 
your name before Her Majesty for a mark of honour, which belongs to the 
peerage of Scotland, without any wish to influence your political conduct, and 
without any hope of your support. 

" I have thought it right to show Lord John's letter to the Duke of 
Wellington, who is highly gratified to learn that your services are so pro- 
perly appreciated. 

" I will take care to forward your answer to Lord John as soon as I 
receive it. 

" Believe me, very faithfully yours, 

" Fitzroy Somerset." 

Lord Saltoun to Lord Fitzroy Somerset. 

" Auchinroth, Eothes, 
" Fochabers, 16 August 1851. 
" My dear Lokd Fitzroy, — I this morning received your kind and most 
unexpected letter, enclosing one from Lord John Eussell to your Lordship, 
proposing to lay my name before Her Majesty, for the purpose of conferring 
upon me the high honour of being made a Knight of the Thistle. 

" Permit me, in the first place, to thank your Lordship for the very kind 
and complimentary manner in which you have made this communication to 
me, as also for your kindness in informing the Duke of Wellington of Lord 
John Russell's intention. 

" I have to request that you will convey to Lord John Eussell my most 
sincere thanks for the honour his Lordship rjroposes to confer upon me, and 
express to him how highly I appreciate his kindness in not expecting any 
change in my political conduct. 

" I remain, my dear Lord, 

" Your sincere and faithful servant, 

" Saltoun." 

the frasers of philorth, lords saltoun. 309 

Lord John Eussell to Loed Saltoun. 

"Pembroke Lodge, August 23d, 1851. 
" My Lord, — The Queen has been pleased to declare her gracious inten- 
tion of conferring upon your Lordship the Order of the Thistle. 

" Your many and distinguished services in Her Majesty's army have 
rightly earned for you this honourable distinction. 

" It gives me great pleasure to be the organ of conveying to you the 
notification of Her Majesty's commands. 

" I have the honour to be, my Lord, 

" Your Lordship's most obedient servant, 

" J. Eussell." 

Lord Saltoun to Lord John Eussell. 

" Auchinroth, Fochabers, 30th August 1851. 
" My Lord, — I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your 
Lordship's letter of the 23d inst, informing me of Her Majesty's gracious 
intention to confer upon me the Order of the Thistle for my services in the 

" I am quite aware that it is the favourable consideration of that service 
by your Lordship which has induced your Lordship to recommend me for 
this high mark of distinction, and I beg to convey to your Lordship my 
grateful acknowledgments and thanks for your kindness on this occasion. 
" I have the honour to be, my Lord, 

" Your Lordship's most obedient servant, 

" Saltoun." 

Lord Saltoun thus received the highest Scottish honour on the recommen- 
dation of the leader of the party which he opposed in politics, and solely on 
account of his distinguished career in the army ; and as he had already long 
been a Knight Commander of the Bath, a Knight Grand Cross of Hanover, 
and a Knight of the foreign orders of Maria Theresa of Austria, and St. 
George of Eussia, these decorations, with his Waterloo, Peninsular, and 
China medals, worthily adorned the breast of the gallant soldier, who had won 
them by long and arduous service and heroic deeds on many a battle-field. 


Until the year 1845, with the exception of his brother Simon, whose 
decease in 1811 has been already mentioned, the family circle, of which Lord 
Saltoun was head, had been unbroken ; but during the next few years the 
hand of death was very busy, and he was eventually left the sole survivor of 
his generation. 

His brother William died on the 21st of March 1 845, and but a few months 
after was followed by his sister Margaret, who died on the 14th of Augtist of 
the same year. 

In January 1849, as above noticed, he lost his brother-in-law, Mr. 
Macdowall Grant of Arndilly, whose death caused him sorrow proportionate 
to the sincere and ardent affection that had long existed between them ; and 
on the 15th November 1851, his mother, the Dowager Lady Saltoun, departed 
this life, having enjoyed, during an existence extended far beyond the natural 
limit, the happiness of seeing her favourite son achieve honour and distinc- 
tion in the career for which her sedulous attention to his early education had 
prepared him. 

Not quite a year after his mother's death, his sister Eleanor (Mrs. 
Macdowall Grant of Arndilly) died on the 26th September 1852, and he 
then remained the sole survivor of his generation in the family. 

The fatigues and hardships of his early campaigns, the poison of the 
Walcheren fever yet lurking in his system, and the effects of the unhealthy 
climate in which his last active service had been performed, at length began 
to tell upon even his iron frame and constitution ; and, doubtless, upon one 
of so warm-hearted and affectionate a disposition, the loss of so many dearly- 
loved relatives, in so short a period of time, had a very depressing effect, and 
during the winter of 1852-3, and the following spring, his health began per- 
ceptibly to decline. 

But the indomitable courage and energy of his character prevented his 
believing that he was really ill, or yielding to the illness which he felt ; and 
making no change in his manner of life, he passed the Parliamentary season 
of ] 853 in London, after which he went north to his shooting lodge of Auchin- 
roth, where, on the 1 8th of August in that year, he died of a rapid dropsy, 
consequent upon the failure of his weakened system to throw out an attack of 
gout, to which malady he had been subject during the latter part of his life. 


His remains were conveyed to Philorth, from whence, on the 25th of 
August, a solemn procession of the tenantry of his estates and the feuars of 
the town of Fraserburgh, accompanied by the Duke of Eichmond, Sir John 
Eayley, Baronet, Mr. Lyttleton H. Bayley, the writer of this history, his 
brother, then Captain D. Fraser, B.H.A., and many of the gentlemen of the 
county, attended them to their resting-place in the family mausoleum at 

Such, in his sixty-ninth year, was the end of this eminent man, who had 
held the family dignities and possessions for a period of very nearly sixty 
years, during which the improvement, both in the country and in the town of 
Fraserburgh, had been very remarkable ; the former, in common with a great 
part of Aberdeenshire, having been changed by the energy and industry of 
the farming population, assisted by the liberality of their landlords, from 
barren moors and mosses, with areas of cultivation here and there, into valuable 
agricultural lands ; and the latter having been considerably enriched by the 
increase of trade, and its public buildings and harbour greatly extended and 

Although the preceding account of his career affords sufficient evidence 
as to what manner of man he was, the following brief but just summary of 
the character of the sixteenth Lord Saltoun may here be made. 

Endowed with high personal courage and unflinching integrity, he was 
intolerant of anything in the shape of cowardice and deceit, but tender and 
gentle to unmerited misfortune or suffering, and to the infirmity or weak- 
ness of old age or childhood ; and though his manner and voice were somewhat 
stern and abrupt, they but veiled the kind heart that beat beneath. 

His distinguishing qualities were energy and activity of mind and body, 
a cheerful and contented disposition, that laughed at hardship, sound common 
sense, great moral courage, and inflexible resolution in what he considered 
right. A strong sense of duty led him to sacrifice any personal comfort or 
advantage that might interfere with its demands ; and in all matters, whether 
important or trivial, his promise, once given, was performed to the fullest 
extent, at whatever cost to himself. 

While he attained to high honour in the profession that he had chosen, 
and in his public career received the approbation of his sovereign and of 


all entitled to judge his conduct, it was acknowledged by those who knew 
him in private life that he uniformly sustained the still more excellent part 
of a thoroughly true and good man. 1 

It is beyond the scope of this work to give any detailed account of indi- 
viduals belonging to the present generation ; but a brief notice of the course 
of succession down to the present time is necessary, for the sixteenth Lord 
Saltoun left no issue, and his next brother, the Honourable Simon Fraser, 
died unmarried. 

The Honourable William Fraser, third son of the fifteenth Lord Saltoun, 
was born on the 12th of October 1791. He was educated at Harrow, and 
although his own wish was to enter the army, in which his eldest brother was 
then beginning his distinguished career, the advantages of a partnership in a 
West Indian mercantile house, offered for his acceptance, were so apparent, 
that he reluctantly consented to abandon his own inclinations, and become 
one of the time-honoured merchants of the city of London. 

For many years the firm was prosperous, and in process of time he became 
the senior partner, trading under the appellation of the Honourable William 
Fraser, Neilson, and Co. ; and in a well- written and amusing series of papers, 
called " The World of London," which appeared in Blackwood's Magazine in 
1841, there is the following passage: — "We have seen with pleasure the 
name of the Honourable Mr. Fraser figuring upon a brass plate on the door 
of an eminent mercantile house in the city ; and we are vulgar enough to 
imagine the scion of a noble house looks quite as much to advantage in that 
place as on the steps of Crockford's, or in the profligate society of the saloon. "" 

The mercantile house of which he was the head, however, shared the ruin 
brought upon many similar establishments by the enactment of the abolition 
of slavery in the West Indian islands and dependencies, which the compen- 
sation of twenty millions granted by Parliament was but as a drop in the 
ocean to avert. 

1 His character, in very similar terms, is given by Sir F. W. Hamilton, History of the 
Grenadier Guards, vol. iii. p. 143. - Blackwood's Magazine, vol. 50, p. 777. 



BORN 1791. DIED 1845. 


However right in the abstract, it is very doubtful whether that measure 
has proved as beneficial to the negroes themselves as its promoters anticipated 
and desired, or whether a more gradual change might not have produced 
better effects upon their proteges, and less ruinous consequences to some of 
their fellow-countrymen ; but these pages are not the proper place in which 
to discuss that question. 

The struggles of William Fraser against the adverse circumstances which 
he had to encounter, and the destruction of his expectations of wealth and 
independence, seriously affected his health, and after the failure of the firm 
he retired from business, and passed the last two years of his life in Scotland. 
In the spring of 1845 he went to London on a visit to his brother, Lord 
Saltoun, but. a few days after his arrival, either from the fatigue of the 
journey, or from having taken cold, he became very unwell, and after a 
short but severe illness he died at his brother's house on the 21st of March 
in that year, aged 53. 

His character may be given in a very few words. He never made an 
enemy. Eobust and active, he delighted in field sports and athletic exer- 
cises, while the kindness of his disposition and geniality of his temper made 
him a very general favourite. A good husband and father, and a warm 
friend, there were many that sorrowed for his comparatively early death. 

On the 9th of April 1818 he married Elizabeth Graham, second daughter 
of David Macdowall Grant, Esq. of Arndilly, in the county of Banff, and by 
her, who died on the 5th of May 1853, he had a numerous family, of whom, 
although their names will be found in the Pedigree, it is, as above men- 
tioned, beyond the scope of this history to give any more detailed account. 
The eldest son, Alexander, succeeded as seventeenth Lord Saltoun on the 
decease of his uncle 18th August 1853. 


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